How SANParks sees it…
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.”