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The Essence of Biosphere Reserves

In their role of "showing the world how to survive", biosphere reserves need to promote and pioneer all possible avenues of environmentally sustainable development and sustainable living. The KBR Strategic Management Framework will undoubtedly emphasise the need to look into more sustainable use of natural resources, for example plant harvesting, sustainable fishing, water (households collecting more rainwater, processing sewerage to provide safe water for gardens), sewerage alternatives, etc.

One sustainable harvesting project is already underway in the Overstrand: SHARE (Sustainable Harvesting Assuring Revenue and Income).

Biosphere reserves are 'living experiments' in sustainability, tasked with the role of showing the world how to survive. The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve was the first biosphere reserve to be declared in southern Africa and forms part of UNESCO's world-wide network of Biosphere Reserves.

Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems that are internationally recognised within the framework of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (UNESCO's) Man and Biosphere programme (MaB). Collectively the reserves constitute a World Network. Biosphere reserves nominated by national governments must meet a minimal set of criteria and adhere to a minimal set of conditions before being admitted into this world network but remain under the sovereignty of the State where it is situated and must submit to State legislation.

One very positive development I have been greatly moved by in recent years, and towards which I hope I have made some small contribution via the activities and projects I have initiated, is the increasingly prominent discussion about what is known in the jargon as "natural capital". This idea defines nature as, among other things, a set of economic assets which, if managed well, can produce dividends that flow from those assets indefinitely. This is not what generally happens at the moment. Assets such as soils and forests are often simply liquidated as if they do not need to be maintained or replenished, and it is surely does not require a financial expert to point out that this is the fastest way to bankruptcy. The shift towards seeing Nature as the provider of a set of economically vital services, rather than resources that can be used up to fuel economic growth is, for me one of the most important conceptual shifts in history. I'm pleased to say that the shift is already underway, but it needs to go much further and happen much faster. I am not so naive as to imagine that this is an easy transition to achieve, especially in such economically challenging times, but perhaps our very fraught economic circumstances at the moment offer exactly the right moment for the world to force this new attitude to break through into the mainstream. Not least because, as this book so clearly sets out, nature is indeed a vast economic asset. If she does not remain intact there can be no secure prospects for sustained and durable growth. – HRH Prince of Wales – in the forward to "What has Nature Done for us" – Tony Juniper

We look forward to a time when all the people of the Western Cape assume a shared responsibility for maintaining the health, diversity and productivity of coastal ecosystems and their associated catchment areas in a spirit of community stewardship and caring. We, the people of the Western Cape, celebrate the diversity, beauty and richness of our coast and seek an equitable balance of opportunities and benefits that arise from it. – Western Cape Integrated Coastal Management Programme

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