So to fill you in briefly, the Biosphere Reserve has, over the past couple of years achieved the following:
Total conservation gains amount to the following:
Since 2008, the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve has leveraged over R12 863 778 for projects and brought in over R5 054 000 into the Region as revenue.
Statutory gains: 3 491 hectares
Contractual Reserve gains: 608 hectares
Voluntary (Private Nature) Reserve gains: 19 642 hectares
Total: 24 010 hectares
The Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve has secured 522 ha of Saldanha Limestone Strandveld being included under formal conservation status,classified as Endangered, of which only tiny fragments are currently formally conserved (in the West Coast National Park), totaling 0.2 % of the total extent of the vegetation type. The AfriSam Reserve will be able to contribute 58.53% towards the national target of 25% (as designated by NBSA for all vegetation types) for conservation of Saldanha Limestone Strandveld.
Securing stewardship sites reactively through the EIA process has resulted in approximately 1485 ha of endangered vegetation being included under formal contract conservation status.85 ha of Saldanha Granite Strandveld, classified as endangered, have been secured through a reactive stewardship agreement at St. Helena Views, and a further 1400ha of Hopefield Sand Fynbos, classified as endangered has been secured through two reactive stewardship agreements at Kruispad and Hopefield Wind Farm sites. The Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve has hosted ten international and national Interns since 2008 and has built the capacity of 1310+ children, teachers and adults as well as over 100 international exchange students. It has furthermore provided lectures on the Biosphere Reserve and sustainability principles to over 1000 University of Stellenbosch Masters and Final Year Engineering Students and provided temporary employment for over 75 previously disadvantaged individuals through projects.
The WWF has funded a Small Grants Fund, positioning the CWCBR to be an umbrella organization to the smaller NGO’s, Community Based Organisations and Co-operatives in the region for a funding source. A Call for Applications for small projects was widely distributed and an excellent response was received, with over 65 applications being submitted.18 Projects were funded and a further 10 were directly supported through other means, directly benefiting communities and their pockets.This project has furthermore encouraged a closer partnership between the municipalities, development organizations such as The Red Door and LED officers, the tourism bureaus and the CWCBR who each sit on the steering committee.
The CWCBR has completed the Spatial Development Plan, one of the flagship projects.This plan has been incorporated into the Provincial Spatial Development Framework, as well as each of the municipal Integrated Development Plans.This plan is directly influencing development decisions in each of the five municipalities as well as the Provincial development decision-making. In doing so it is ensuring sustainable development practices are being implemented within these three spheres of government.These plans remain the decision making tool in each sphere of government for at least five years.
The Plan is directly demonstrating the following spectrum of benefits, both during its compilation and subsequent to its recent approval by CWCBR Board:
- Heightened appreciation by planning officials of biodiversity conservation as a planning and land use management informant at landscape level in rural areas, as opposed to only at farm or development site level.
- Increased awareness of the need for cross-border municipal land use and biodiversity considerations resulting in collaboration between local authorities within CWCBR domain in their framework planning and land use management (e.g. SDF’s EMF’s). Contributing to improving the credibility of municipal SDF’s by recognising the importance of biodiversity at landscape level.
- Informing spatial structuring within municipal areas (e.g. Saldanha Bay IDZ and coastal corridor), stewardship programmes (e.g. West Coast National Park – Berg River corridor) and scale and type of development (e.g. Bok-Punt-Yzerfontein coastal area).
- Demand for and utilization of resource data collated during the compilation of the Framework Plan by both the public and private sector.
- Increased awareness of the role of biodiversity in fostering a green economy, especially in the CWCBR domain characterised by marginal agriculture, depleted marine resources and increasing landscape transformation due to climate change.
- Implementing and reinforcing the principles and spatial planning requirements of the Western Cape Provincial Spatial Development Framework.
Over and above the Spatial Development Plan, another strategy to ensure sustainable development occurs within the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve is through commenting on Environmental Impact Assessments
(“EIA”).Over 150 EIA applications have been commented on, where all comments are directly incorporated into CapeNature comments, BIRDLIFE SA comments, and/or the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.
This has had a direct impact on influencing development within the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve to seek to guide and ensure sustainable development.
The CWCBR was also requested to build capacity of other Biosphere Reserves of the world on request of UNESCO by being one of only five Biosphere Reserves elected to present a case study at the 3rd Congress of International Biosphere Reserves held in Madrid in February 2008 as well as Biosphere Reserves and their respective governing bodies for Rwanda, South Korea (which included all Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves of the world), Ethiopia, South America, all the South African Biosphere Reserves and the Caribbean.
West Coast Biosphere Trails Open for Business
It’s been three years in the making but the Cape West Coast Biosphere Trails are now one of the newest trail products on offer in the Western Cape. Funding secured from the Development Bank of SA (DBSA) some three years ago enabled a team of consultants to prepare a trails feasibility plan and more recently the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) came to the party by providing funding for the implementation of the five trails.
This has been a long road - but one that will hopefully be so great that every individual living in the Biosphere Reserve will feel like they are "out" if they are NOT a member! Here we have been looking at membership packages that actually offers value to members either in the form of financial means, lifestyle, additional business or just a much needed getaway weekend at a fantastic destination within the Biosphere Reserve.
The Membership program accommodates both the needs of commercial entities and private individuals and offers distinctive value to each membership category.
We believe that the success of our membership program will be build upon on reciprocal benefit flow between the Biosphere Reserve and the members.
These are just some of our highlights for this year - there have been so many more, but let us stay connected so that we can tell you more - and if you wish to chat to us directly or perhaps be involved, we welcome your call.