Collared sunbird in Kogelberg Nature Reserve


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Biosphere reserves are the result of a plan created by UNESCO as a ‘living experiment’ in sustainability to guide the world on how to survive into the future.

These are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems, which are internationally recognised within the framework of UNESCO's (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Man and Biosphere Programme (MaB). Collectively, they constitute a World Network that are nominated by national governments and must meet a minimal set of criteria and adhere to a minimal set of conditions before being admitted into the World Network. Each biosphere reserve remains under the sovereignty of the State where it is situated and submits to State legislation.

Biosphere reserves are designed to meet one of the most challenging issues facing our world today:

How to preserve the biodiversity of plants, animals and micro-organisms which make up our ‘living biosphere’ and maintain healthy systems while, at the same time, meet the material needs and aspirations of an increasing number of people.

Each Biosphere Reserve is intended to fulfil three basic functions, which are complementary and mutually reinforcing:

  • A CONSERVATION function – to contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation;
  • A DEVELOPMENT function – to foster economic and human development which is socio-culturally and economically sustainable;
  • A LOGISTICAL function – to provide support for research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues of conservation and development.

These functions need to be implemented within a defined landscape and delimited according to a zonation system along a progression from preservation to sustainable resource use in the form of an inner core area, buffer zones and an outer transition zone.

For further official information follow the links on the UNESCO Kogelberg Biosphere and MaB logos or read an abstract about the history of the UNESCO MaB program in South Africa written by Ruida Pool-Stanvliet.

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