How SANParks sees it…

South African Country Life - - Conservation -

The Gar­den Route Bio­sphere Re­serve has at its heart SANParks’ 182 000-hectare Gar­den Route Na­tional Park. To­gether with the Tsit­sikamma, Goukamma and Rob­berg Ma­rine Pro­tected Ar­eas un­der CapeNa­ture, as well as the Wilder­ness Lakes Ram­sar Site, and the Nel­son Bay and Langk­loof Val­ley com­po­nents of the Cape Floris­tic Re­gion, it is the cus­to­dian of the rich­est and most di­verse plant and an­i­mal life in the bio­sphere re­serve.

The park is it­self much the prod­uct of the kind of holis­tic think­ing that un­der­lies the bio­sphere con­cept. It was a mighty boost for its con­ser­va­tion func­tion when, back in 2009, its then sep­a­rate en­ti­ties of Wilder­ness, Tsit­sikamma and the

Knysna Na­tional Lake Area got linked to­gether with the trans­fer of large ex­panses of in­dige­nous for­est and other state-owned land to its ju­ris­dic­tion.

The park has high ex­pec­ta­tions of the bio­sphere re­serve. It un­der­scores the very prin­ci­ple of part­ner­ship that is the ba­sis of na­tional parks’ own ap­proach, says Nandi Mg­wad­lamba, SANParks’ re­gional communications man­ager.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate that it will take time to im­ple­ment a strat­egy for the bio­sphere re­serve, but we would like to see it mov­ing ahead. The prob­lems that need to be ad­dressed are not get­ting eas­ier.”

Among the threats she men­tions are poach­ing in the land and ma­rine pro­tected ar­eas. En­croach­ing de­vel­op­ment, too, is a prob­lem. But it is the mas­sive in­fes­ta­tions of alien plants that are the big­gest dan­ger.

“SANParks has spent about R127 mil­lion on erad­i­ca­tion pro­grammes in and around the park since 2002,” says Mg­wad­lamba. “But what is most needed is a com­bined ef­fort in­volv­ing all, in­clud­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, busi­ness, and pri­vate landown­ers. Although SANParks has much ex­per­tise to of­fer and is com­mit­ted to part­ner­ship, it is the fa­cil­i­ta­tion of in­te­grated land man­age­ment that needs crit­i­cal fa­cil­i­ta­tion.”

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