The mix of communities in the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve reflects the history of the area.
Rural communities are made up primarily of farmers and farm dwellers, the former mostly of European descent and the latter identified mainly as the Cape coloured community. Farm dwellers may be employed on farms, or may be former workers or dependents of farm workers who continue to live on the farms where their families have been, sometimes for generations. Many are descendents of the area’s original inhabitants, the ancient KhoiSan people. The primary economic activity across these communities is intensive agriculture, including ostrich, dairy, citrus, wine, grain and so on, combined with extensive grazing of cattle, goats and sheep for meat as well as wool production.
The main urban centres of Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn have diverse multi-ethnic populations, including black, coloured and white South Africans, as well as a minority of foreign nationals. These urban economies are based largely on agribusiness and services, especially tourism, and to some extent on trade. A sizeable inflow of migrants from the Eastern Cape, as well as up-country pre-retirees seeking to settle in the beauty of the region’s environment, have over the past decade added to the local labour supply and the relatively older age groups.