PRETORIA– Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has welcomed the approval of South Africa’s application for the Garden Route to be declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, which are learning places for sustainable development whose aim is to reconcile biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.
The Garden Route stretches some 300 kilometres along the southern coast of South Africa from Mossel Bay in Western Cape Province to the Storms River in Eastern Cape Province and is so called because of the verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation encountered there. It includes the towns of George, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Mossel Bay, Little Brak River and Nature’s Valley.
The Department of Environmental Affairs said in a statement here Thursday that United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) members had voted in favour of the inclusion of the Garden Route as a biosphere reserve at a meeting in Paris on Wednesday.
The Garden Route, one of South Africa’s prime tourism regions, is an area rich in terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems where conservation of the rich biodiverse region is ably reconciled with sustainable use practices, the statement quoted Molewa as saying.
The Garden Route Biosphere Reserve (GRBR) is the ninth such reserve to be declared in South Africa.
The Garden Route Biosphere Reserve is located within the Cape Floristic biodiversity hotspot region along the southern coast of part of the country. With a total area of 698,363hectares and a population of 450,624 people, the area includes the Tsitsikamma, Goukamma and Robberg Marine protected areas, Wilderness Lake Ramsar site, Garden Route National Park and two components of the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage site: the Nelson Bay Cave and the Langkloof Valley, the latter being critically endangered, the department said.
Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma was set to visit the communities around the Garden Route which had been affected by recent devastating fires. He was to visit communities of Wit Lokasie and Knysna Heights where the raging fires had destroyed property, displaced and killed people. Seven people were killed and more than 400 structures were destroyed.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK