Dr Arnel Huisamen joined the GCBR board of directors in January 2023; since then she has brought an abundance of energy, passion and positivity to the organisation, our team and our partners. She is always searching for ways she can bring more value to the GCBR so it was no surprise when planning her family vacation in Norway that she wanted to reach out to their Biosphere Reserve to see if they could meet to see what we could learn from each other.
Herewith Arnel’s account of her visit to Nordhordland Biosphere Reserve in Norway:
“As a director of Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve, I wanted to take the opportunity to connect with Kari Natland, coordinator of the Nordhordland Biosphere Reserve. So, on May 15, 2023, we hopped on a ferry from Bergen and set sail for an unforgettable journey.Arnel Huisamen
Although the weather decided to make it a wet affair that day, it was unable to dampen our spirits or detract from the breath-taking beauty that awaited us! As we arrived at the Heathland Centre, we were greeted by lush landscapes and stunning fjords, showcasing the true essence of Norwegian wilderness.
The cold and rainy weather was in stark contrast to warm hospitality and cosy atmosphere, where we were treated to a mouthwatering spread of delicious, locally sourced food. We savoured the amazing flavours of traditional Norwegian cuisine while diving into lively discussions about the best practices in our respective biosphere reserves between bites.
Kari and I were thrilled to share our experiences, challenges, and successes. We also exchanged gifts; a beanie for the cold Norwegian weather for us and a cap from sunny South Africa for them. We found that although the two Biosphere Reserves are worlds apart and quite different in many ways, we also held similarities in our dedication to conserving nature and involving local communities. The passion and commitment we both displayed resonated with each other, reinforcing the importance of collaboration and knowledge exchange.
We valued each other’s contributions and perspectives on sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and the role of responsible tourism. It was incredible to gain insights into the unique strategies employed by Nordhordland Biosphere Reserve, as well as sharing our own innovative initiatives from GCBR. Our meeting turned out to be the perfect opportunity to build connections beyond formalities. We bonded over our shared love for nature, realizing that together, we can achieve even greater heights in preserving our natural landscapes for future generations.
As Kari drove us back to the closest bus stop and we were already planning our next meeting. We felt a genuine connection, knowing that future collaborations between Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve and Nordhordland Biosphere Reserve would enrich our conservation efforts.
In the end, my visit was a memorable experience filled with valuable exchanges, laughter, and a deep appreciation for the wonders of nature. I look forward to more connections and fruitful collaborations in the future, as we continue our commitment to preserving and celebrating the beauty of our biosphere reserves. Let’s keep exploring, learning, and valuing our remarkable planet!”