Topic: Strategy Planning for Environmental Education in the Biosphere Reserve
Venue: Garden Route Environmental Education Centre, George
Dates: Wednesday 26th of February, Wednesday 18th of March and Wednesday 8th of April, 2020.
Draft Program: Click to view here: DRAFT Program for Environmental Education workshop 26 Feb 2010

Workshop Overview
The Garden Route Biosphere Reserve (GRBR) cordially invites the participation of all individuals and organisations that are involved in environmental education programs in the Garden Route to collaborate in developing a coordinated approach to youth environmental education within the GRBR. The biosphere reserve seeks to work together with stakeholders and actors in the landscape to collaboratively develop a programme for youth environmental education in the biosphere reserve.

The GRBR will be hosting a series of 3 workshops. The first workshop aims at identifying current successes and strengths which can be leveraged as well as gaps and needs in the education landscape that the GRBR youth programme can fill. The second workshop will consolidate a workable program for the youth based on the success, gaps and needs analysis. The third workshop will be dedicated to finalising a programme and informing a budget as well as identify potential funders the GRBR can target a proposal submission to.
The key outcomes of the workshop series are to establish a working group to develop a Youth Environmental Education Programme which the GRBR will ratify into a proposal document by June 2020. The proposal will be used to leverage the GRBR to raise funds for coordinated actions by stakeholders in the landscape which are aligned with the vision and mission of the GRBR.

Participants are encouraged to commit to and attend all three workshops to ensure continuity and consistency in the development of ideas, knowledge and outcomes. The workshops will be held on Wednesday the 26th of February, Wednesday the 18th of March and Wednesday the 8th of April in George at the Garden Route Environmental Education Centre.

Registration for the Workshops
Please express your interest in attending as soon as possible: send an RSVP email to Luzanne Visagie ( before 23rd February 2020.

Draft Program (Click here): DRAFT Program for Environmental Education workshop 26 Feb 2010

Contact Person: Monica Vaccaro
Email Address:
Project Team: Bianca Currie, Monica Vaccaro (Coordinator)

As part of the 2020 Strategy Planning for the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve, several workshops are being planned across the region.

The first workshop is this Friday 14th February titled:

 “Identifying and addressing drivers of rapid urbanisation, land use and land use change in the GRBR” 

Venue: Nelson Mandela University, George Campus, Conference Room 

The Draft Program is below (and available as pdf here):



Persons involved 

09h00-09h30  Arrival and registration; refreshments  Project Team 
09h30-09h45  Welcome and introduction  Bianca Currie 

Chair, Garden Route Biosphere Reserve 

09h45-10h00  Purpose of the workshop & agreement on the agenda 


Robert Fincham 

Project coordinator 

10h00-11h30  Identifying the drivers: Debate 1: All Participants  Facilitators: Project Team 
11h30-12h00  Refreshments & snacks 
12h00-13h00  Addressing the drivers: Debate 2: All participants  Facilitators: Project Team 
13h00-13h30  Outcomes and way forward 

Finger lunch 

Robert Fincham 

We cordially invite interested individuals and organisations to a series of 3 workshops to identify and contribute to tackling key drivers of rapid urbanisation, land use and land use change in the GRBR. The purpose of these workshops is to develop a framework to understand, and a strategy to address, these key drivers and the challenges they pose for government and other institutions of civil society.

In pursuit of the purpose and framework of the workshops, a bottom up, collaborative approach is envisaged. This approach should lead to a strong sense of actions required at the landscape level, while learning from specific project level work already underway. 

The outcome of the workshops is to establish a working group for the GRBR to address these challenges and their resolution in the medium and long term.

The workshops will be held on:

Friday 14th February in George;

Friday 3rd April in Knysna and

Friday 15th May in Jefferey’s Bay.

A key output of the workshop series will be a strategy ratified in a proposal by June 2020. The proposal will be used to raise funds for coordinated actions by stakeholders in the landscape, aligned with the vision and mission of the GRBR. 

Participants are encouraged to commit to and attend all three workshops to ensure continuity and consistency in the development of ideas, knowledge and outcomes. 

Registration for the Workshops 

Please express your interest in attending as soon as possible, but not later than Monday 10th February 2020, by contacting Luzanne Visagie [] 


Dr Bianca Currie, Chair of our Biosphere Reserve, delivered the Chair’s Report at the Annual General Meeting on the 13th December 2019:

It has been a year of transition, consolidation and strategizing for the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve. The transition from the interim board to the reserves first board, who will serve for the next five years, was a lengthy and administratively heavy process. The new board only officially gained control and signing power of the reserve’s bank account mid-2019. We now have a sound decision making body for the Biosphere Reserve. The current board members bring a good mix of skills and expertise to the table. They have helped to provide the Biosphere Reserve with stability and formulated an implementable overarching strategy and a draft communications strategy taking into consideration our limitations and constraints.

The strategy documents have provided the Biosphere Reserve with direction and purpose placing the reserve on a clear set of tracks for the future.

The Garden Route Biosphere Reserve’s overarching strategy
The Garden Route Biosphere Reserves overarching strategy looks at the landscape through a social ecological systems lens and considers our natural and social capitals, our strengths, weaknesses; as well as drivers in the system and threats to our assets. This strategy now consolidates the biosphere reserve efforts into six key focus areas namely: 1) Landscape Management Coordination, primarily focused on facilitating the coordination of alien invasive plant clearing in the Biosphere Reserve;
2) Green Enterprise Mentorship Development, primarily aimed at developing skills and capacity in the youth;
3) School Youth Biosphere Programme, to work with school goers, colleges and universities;
4) Biosphere Membership, to develop the necessary infrastructure to make a connection with stakeholders in the biosphere reserve;
5) Water Pollution, aimed at improving the state of rivers and estuaries in the biospherereserve and especially related to pollution; and
6) Town / Land Use Planning Capacity Development focused on sustainable cities development and improved decision-making regarding land use planning in the Biosphere Reserve.

One of the challenges the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve currently faces is the capacity to be an implementing agent in the landscape. Without funding for dedicated staff, we are limited to playing a co-ordination and facilitation role. We therefore firmly acknowledge the need to work together with our stakeholders. Over the next year the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve endeavours to establish a working group structure made up of stakeholders currently undertaking valuable work in the landscape, within each of the key focus areas. We ask how we can support and strengthen existing agents and action taking place. In the coming year we wish to collaboratively develop key focus area strategies, funding proposals and action plans, building on what our stakeholders are currently doing in each of the areas. We believe our success lies in a bottom-up process working with agents in the landscape.

The Biosphere Reserve also expects to formally establish an advisory group made up of those who lead each of the key focus area working groups. This advisory group will provide a further layer of expertise to inform decision-making related to the biosphere reserve and the activities it engages in. A structure where the board is informed by the advisory group also provides a bottom-up and top-down information channel for communication to flow, allowing decision-makers to be informed by those on the ground; and the decisions being made can filter from the board to the agents in the field.

Draft communications strategy
A second equally important strategy developed for the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve this year was a communications strategy. A draft communications strategy has been formulated which provides a vision and mission statement for the reserve. It includes a draft rapid assessment tool to guide what the Biosphere Reserve communicates on behalf of its stakeholders. The draft vision for the Biosphere Reserve is to connect people and environments for enhanced diversity and wellbeing; and the draft mission is to improve collaborations to support integrated environmental management and equitable development. The draft strategy also expresses who we should be communicating with, what
we should be communicating, and how we should be communicating in light of our limitations.

We are grateful for the small operational funding we have received in the last year from the Department of Environment and Development Planning. However, our primary need in the coming years is to raise funding for the development of the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve, and its growth into an institutional structure that is not limited by its capacity to implement. The working group strategies and funding proposals are our first steps in raising sorely needed funds for collaborative action in the landscape. The operational funding from government will allow us to employ the necessary expertise to ratify the strategies into funding proposals.

In summary, progress has been slow but determined in 2019. We have been transitioning to a new board and strategizing for the future direction of the Biosphere Reserve. The year has been about putting the necessary guiding documents and processes in place while consolidating the governance structure of the reserve. With these vital pieces of the machine in place we have clearer focus and direction with which to move forward. Our priorities next year are to elicit support, develop relationships and partnerships, and work closely with our stakeholders on the ground to raise funding for activities in the landscape.

I believe we now have a plan which sets us on a positive trajectory and together with our stakeholders we can grow and develop the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve into a useful mechanism for sustainable development in our region.

Dr Bianca Currie
UNESCO Garden Route Biosphere Reserve

The 2019 AGM will take place on Friday 13th December at 5pm

Venue: Leisure Isle Boat Club (off Links Dr.), Knysna, 17:00 – 18:00.

All stakeholders and interested members of the public are invited to join us at our Annual General Meeting which will take place on Friday 13th December, 2019.

The AGM will update attendees on the status and progress of the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve over the past 18 months as well as outline envisaged plans and activities for 2020.

We look forward to welcoming you to this gathering.


The GRBR held an initial internal workshop with invited members to discuss the Biosphere Reserve’s communications and messaging strategy for 2020 and beyond.

The workshop commenced with a creative activity encouraging participants to revisit key milestones, core values and future hopes for the Biosphere Reserve. This was followed by brainstorming around forming a clear and concise Vision and Mission for the Biosphere and drafting preliminary statements to be further developed by core members in the coming months.

Participants proposed the following:

Vision:  “Connected people and environments for enhanced diversity, cohesion and wellbeing.”

Mission:  “Improving collaborations to support integrated environmental management, regenerative systems and equitable development.”

Participants acknowledged a need to develop Rapid Assessment Criteria to determine what news, events and activities the GRBR is willing and able to give its endorsement and ‘voice’ to in the GRBR region. This fed into a broader discussion around the ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of a Biosphere Communications Strategy, which will be further elaborated with partners during 2020. 

Feedback on the proposed Vision & Mission Statements are welcome and can be directed to Luzanne:

The Lima Action Plan for UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves (2016-2025) contains a comprehensive set of actions aimed at ensuring the effective implementation of the MAB Strategy 2015- 2025. The MAB Programme will harness lessons learned through sustainability science and education and use modern, open and transparent ways to communicate and share information. The Lima Action Plan (2016 – 2025), followed by Biosphere Reserve’s is structured according to the following 3 strategic action areas:

  1. To enhance the conservation of biodiversity and cultural heritage, maintain ecosystem services and foster the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources.
  2. To explore, develop, support, and study thriving sustainable societies, economies, and human settlements respecting the web of life on which they depend.
  3. To promote the understanding of the impact of environmental changes, including climate change, and develop and support mitigation and adaptation actions.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit for the adoption of the Agenda 2030 and the sustainable development goals was held during three historic days in New York, 25-27 September 2015.

In the lead-up to the Summit, the UN Secretariat, through its Division for Sustainable Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs
(DESA-DSD), launched Partnerships for SDGs – an online platform to spur partnerships engagement in support of the sustainable development goals. Born out of the Rio+20 Conference through paragraph 283 of the Future We Want outcome document, the platform has been revitalized in preparation for the Agenda 2030, with the 17 sustainable development goals at its core. To date, the platform contains nearly 1,800 partnerships and initiatives promoting sustainable development. Beginning in early September 2015 and through the Summit, over 40 initiatives aiming to support the newly adopted sustainable development goals were registered. This compilation provides a summary of 17 initiatives – one for each of the goals

The UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets are a set of 20 global targets under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011 to 2020. They are grouped under five strategic goals:

  1. Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society
  2. Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use;
  3. Improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity
  4. Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services
  5. Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building