Message from the Chair
As important participants in the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve’s (GCBR) realm, we are excited to engage you in this newsletter to describe our plans for the next four years. This is on the back of a number of successful projects undertaken by the GCBR thus far. Please make sure to catch up on some of the details of our journey over these past few years and view our progress in our Operations Report. READ MORE
As many of you might know, 2021 marks the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Reversing the decline of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is fundamental to the health and well-being of future generations. The continued protection of healthy ecosystems, and the restoration of degraded ecosystems are among the most important activities humans can be involved in. This newsletter provides you with an update on what the GCBR intends to do over the next several years to contribute to this effort.
Looking Ahead: 2022-2025
Given the background described above, the GCBR has chosen to focus on ecological restoration and ecological corridors of some of our most vulnerable, bio-diverse regions as we go forward.
GCBR operations is developing the ability to field experienced, skilled, motivated teams to do restoration, alien clearing, erosion control, nursery management and similar work. We also have people with the skills to navigate amongst landowners, providing advice and support under a neutral banner.
In our renewed efforts towards restoration, we plan to …
- Tighten our programmatic focus on ecological corridors, ecosystem restoration and green business development;
- Improve integration across programme activities and outcomes towards long term resilience goals;
- Accelerate scale of direct and indirect impact without becoming too big or being too thinly spread and heterogeneous;
- Invest more in learning and leverage as a cross-cutting programme approach.
Gouritz Corridors and Restoration Programme
Our primary focus is stimulating greater ecological functionality in the Biosphere Reserve and we aim to achieve this through the following activities.
The first part of the programme will focus on developing an ecological corridor network along mountain ranges and rivers, with improved ecological functionality/ connectivity of natural ecosystems.
In parallel, GCBR will undertake restoration of high conservation value mountain, wetland, river and thicket ecosystems, using multiple methods suited to different landscape management contexts.
Ecological corridors will be strengthened through
- Regular extension services to willing landowners;
- Growing collaboration between farmers and other landowners for effective fire management, wildlife management, invasive alien plant control; river and wetland management;
- Leveraging resources, expertise and technical support;
- Innovation, demonstration, knowledge development and communication.
Restoration efforts will use a mix of methodologies, such as
- Selective clearing of invasive alien plants;
- Chipping biomass and mulching for alien seed suppression
- Soil erosion control and regeneration interventions;
- Rehabilitation and revegetation using indigenous species;
- Creating wetland buffer zones;
- Thicket restoration using spekboom and other suitable species.
Priority spatial focus will be on Gouritz mountain and river corridors in the Langeberg region comprising Riversdale-Herbertsdale-Ruiterbos. These areas are critical for the protection of the Cape Floral Region’s unique biodiversity, particularly in relation to invasive plants, water supply and fire management.
This map represents the broader spatial framework for the programme. A primary milestone by December 2025 is to achieve a strengthened corridor network within this area. This will comprise predominantly private land.
We anticipate extending the spatial focus to include the Rooiberg-Gamkaberg mountain regions in the semi-arid Klein Karoo, with attention to restoration, rewilding and ecotourism opportunities, as national and international travel restrictions ease in a post-pandemic context.
GCBR Flexible Micro Fund
The GCBR Board micro-fund has funded a handful of very exciting projects: a grant to study the ethnobotany and resource economy of the Gouritz Biosphere Reserve (see article), a study grant for an underprivileged youth to work on a local ichnology project with tracks estimated at ages of 70 000 – 160 000 years old (see article), and funding support for the upgrading and revamp of the medicinal plants garden at a museum in Prince Albert, one of GCBR’s Northern-most towns (see article).
Does your community have a small initiative to improve the environment? By providing small grants, the micro-fund affords a responsive funding mechanism that stimulates citizens working together for ecological sustainability. (Read More.)
Get in touch
For more detail on the specific roll out of these activities, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you as we proceed on this exciting journey. Please continue to actively support the GCBR through your valuable time and financial resources.