Most of the current statutory protected areas are located in the mountainous uplands, thus protecting mostly Fynbos vegetation types. The other two biodiversity hotspots, as well as much of the biodiversity of the coastal lowland Fynbos, are poorly protected. Furthermore, existing nature reserves do little to protect vulnerable and threatened aquatic ecosystems. The biosphere reserve intends to rectify these discrepancies of past conservation foci.
The GCBR has already managed to secure some vital lowland portions to contribute towards the core area of the biosphere reserve. These private landowners agreed to ecologically sound management principles and had their land legally registered as conservation areas through the stewardship model of CapeNature. The biosphere reserve will build on these successes, seeking to add additional private land to the core conservation area on the lowlands and to alter undesirable land-use practices in the buffer areas in order to ensure that vital aquatic and terrestrial ecological processes remain operative and healthy. One of the biggest challenges will be to assist landowners to render their actions financially viable on the long-term.
On a global level, this biosphere reserve is much more than ‘nice to have’ to maintain the richness of the biodiversity of one of the threatened, species-rich parts of the world. It is also the place in the world where modern man evolved as a result of the climate and unusual richness in marine and terrestrial biodiversity as food sources. A significant portion of the lowland parts of this unusual region (postulated as the biblical ‘Eden’ - see Cowling and Pierce 2009) is now highly threatened by inappropriate development, to the point of endangering not only the biodiversity and unusual cultural heritage, but also the quality of life of its present-day inhabitants. It would be a sad reflection on humanity if the world does not stand up to support this biosphere reserve.
Fortunately there are still opportunities to conserve much of the biodiversity and ecological processes of the lowland areas. However, this will require the participation of private citizens of the region, as they are the landowners and custodians of most of the additionally required core and buffer areas of the biosphere reserve.