Posts tagged BiosphereAwareness
Earth Day
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There is only one International Earth Day a year: However, every day is Earth Day.

This year’s theme is ‘Protect Our Species’

UNESCO says it best: International Earth Day is a reminder of the ‘Earth and its ecosystems [that] provide us with sustenance, and that we have a collective responsibility to achieve balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations’.

UNESCO’s article for Earth Day exemplifies Heritage Sites as one of Nature’s largest strongholds for particularly endangered species. In their article they give examples of heritage sites around the world and pinpoint them as critical ecosystems for threatened species and vital resources for the earth’s life support. 

The Cape Floral Region Protected Area in South Africa, known as the world’s hottest hot-spot for plant diversity and endemism, supports almost 20% of the continent’s flora: a haven for plants and 6000 endemic species to South Africa.

Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve is located within the Western Cape Floral Kingdom and has some of the key areas for protection of particularly the fynbos biome. 

In protecting our species, to know the IUCN Red List is fundamental. 

Cape Nature has published a guide and introduction to The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List which contains an inventory of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of biological species and subspecies. The article gives examples of how South Africa’s plant and animal Red Lists are evaluated and complied as well as defining the nine categories in the Red List. 

A unified and standardized way to measure biodiversity loss, this list has become the backbone of global conservation, and is used to inform policy and conservation planning. To keep this list up to date a vast network of scientists, conservationists, and other stakeholders pool knowledge together. 

To read these articles follow the links below:

IUCN Red List

An ode to Earth Day by UNESCO

UNESCO designates 24 new sites as part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves
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The last meeting of the International Coordinating Council (ICC) of the UNESCO MAB (Man and the Biosphere) Programme, was held in Palembang, Indonesia from 23 to 28 July 2018.

During this meeting, 24 new biosphere reserves were designated and therefore added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) that at present comprises 686 sites in 122 countries. Two countries have joined the WNBR for the first time, namely Moldova and Mozambique. These countries have not been part of the MAB network in the past, but have joined now with their first designated biosphere reserves, which are the Quirimbas Biosphere Reserve in Northern Mozambique and the Lower Prut Biosphere Reserve in the south of Moldova (an eastern European country located between Romania and Ukraine). 

Of the 24 new biosphere reserves (BR), five are located in Africa. These are Quirimbas BR in Mozambique, Arly BR in Burkina Faso, Tsimanampesotse–Nosy Ve Androka BR in Madagascar, Gombe Masito Ugalla BR in Tanzania, and Marico BR in South Africa. 

Marico BR is located in the North West Province, covering 447 269 ha and assisting in protecting the broader dolomitic aquifer system of the Province. The Marico River is recognised as one of the last free flowing pristine river systems in South Africa and the only one in the North West and Gauteng Provinces. It is one of a small number of rivers where the sources are eye springs fed from dolomitic aquifers and there are a number of rare tufa waterfall formations.  Heritage components include both historic and pre-historic sites and structures. The area encompasses one of the most biodiverse regions in South Africa, with the second highest number of recorded bird species. It is also home to multiple endangered and several unique species. The Marico Biosphere Reserve is managed by the Marico BR Non-profit Company. With the designation of Marico BR, South Africa now boasts ten biosphere reserves, collectively covering approximately 9.5% of South Africa’s total land area. This is clearly not an insignificant figure and demonstrates the MAB Programme’s contribution to the South African conservation estate.  


Learn about South African Biosphere Reserves
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South Africa has ten UNESCO designated biosphere reserves. Recently a booklet was produced to showcase the total impact of the MAB Programme in the country. The story of biosphere reserves and the impact they have on South Africa is powerful, therefore the main goal of this booklet is to communicate the collective value of biosphere reserves. Included is information on the MAB Programme in specific, Sustainable Development Goals, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, UNESCO’s Lima Action Plan, as well as detailed information on each of the ten existing biosphere reserves. In conclusion, the impact of biosphere reserves is organised in accordance with  four core pillars, namely 

(1) Biodiversity Conservation, Awareness and Research

(2) Employment and Quality of Life

(3) Ecosystem Services

(4) Facilitation

It is believed that the booklet will contribute towards awareness and better understanding of the MAB Programme and the benefits that biosphere reserves have on both people and the greater landscape.

A Walk to Remember - Meise Botanic Garden

Last week, Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve were fortunate to visit Meise Botanic Garden while on an awareness tour with La Source, a 20-meter-long oil painting depicting the biodiversity around and in the Berg River. There were discussions around future collaborations and joint awareness campaigns around art and conservation. And possibly twinning our future projects.

We were taken on a historical tour in the Bouchout Castle, then following the paths along the vast meadows and trees, shrubs, and hibernating flowers - seeing numerous and varied statues, onto the Orangery and the Garden’s Shop where we tasted their local coffee. Then finishing our journey in the enormous glass house, the Plant Palace. A place of innovation, wonder, and beauty. The glass house showcases plants from different regions of the world, through simulating the climate – one walks through the rainforest, desert, and savannah. We spotted the giant waterlilies, Victoria cruziana, which are also present at the Botanical Garden in Stellenbosch. The Botanic Garden Meise has a plant exchange and collaboration with the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden.

The history of the garden dates back to 1796, hosting two centuries of knowledge and innovation around plants. The garden covers 92 hectares. Historic buildings can be visited, and a castle with a tower dating back to the 12th century, is available for events and art exhibitions. 

The botanical library hosts a wealth of knowledge with over 200 000 books from the 15th century till today. We were fortunate to see the herbarium, with approximately four million specimens, and has major collections from Europe, Central Africa, Brazil and South-East Asia. It has one of the greatest wild roses collections in the world.

There are more than 25 000 accessions from almost 18 000 taxa of living plants, including different threatened species, such as Kwango giant cycad. The Garden also has an internationally recognized seedbank notably known for its coffee, banana and beans unique Crop Wild Relative collections additionally to endangered wild flora of Belgium and D.R. Congo (the Katanga Cupper hills).

This visit aims at broadening the collaboration between Meise Botanic Garden and the Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve.

Check out their events, workshops and more -

Mission Statement - Meise Botanic Garden

"Building a sustainable future through discovery, research and conservation of plants."

Steven Dessein, CEO

An Unforgettable Unveiling of La Source

Friday last week was a truly special day, the unveiling of ‘La Source: The Berg River from source to sea’ at Haut Espoir was a huge success.

Among the many very special guests, Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve was honoured to host the Khoi King, his majesty Goab Khoebaha Calvin Cornelius 111 and the Queen Jeanette.

Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve welcomed the guests to the event, in the warmly lit tasting room at Haut Espoir, introducing the Biosphere and giving the programme of the event.

Councillor du Plessis followed with a speech.

The anticipating crowd was led to the first room of the wine cellar, where they gathered for an emotion-filled ceremony. His majesty giving a heart-felt speech, unveiled the painting, placing emphasis on the importance of the river and the natural environment around it. How our individual choices shape our surroundings.

As the door was opened, presenting the 20-meter-long artwork hanging above the barrels, the guests were completely blown away by the mere size of it. As they settled into the room, and looked closer, they could see the details of animals, people, and plant life from past to present. The biodiversity that it supports. The Khoi King gave thanks in three different interpretations of his 'mother tongue' after which networking and questions about the painting followed.  

The unveiling was followed by a musical piece, especially composed for a group of young adults who will be receiving hearing aids through the funds raised from the painting while it travels overseas. This will be one of the many youth projects that the painting will support.

The painting was also available to view over the weekend during the Uncorked Festival. Over 500 people visited.  

It will now be going on a journey to Europe, where it will first be displayed at the Annual Dutch Art Fair from the 12th  - 14th October, followed by a trip to Luxembourg and more.

Check out the gallery for more photo's of the painting and the event

La Source: A project with a splash of paint!

La Source: A project with a splash of paint!

Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve has launched its latest project to create awareness of Biosphere Reserves in South Africa (and internationally). The work they, and their partners, do in much needed conservation and development. The idea for the painting came together while discussing art, conservation, CWBR, and an artists’ desire to reach for the paint brush. This is how it is being carried out…

The awareness

By breaking a Guinness World Record, one of the biggest publications in the world, for the “World’s largest oil painting done by a single artist”, this Berg River project hopes to reach a huge number of people locally and worldwide. The painting is longer than a Southern Right whale!

The medium: The Berg River

The theme for the painting is inspired by all the life that surrounds the river, now and in the past, by the source of the Berg River - in the Jonkershoek mountains in Franschhoek, passing through towns and then leading out into the Atlantic Ocean through Velddrif, a coastal fishing town in the West Coast. The painting gives a natural and cultural depiction of the biodiversity that it supports.  

The importance of the Berg River

The Berg River and its catchment area are the life blood to all communities, businesses, and agriculture from the Franschhoek Mountains to Velddrift.

The Artist

Charl Frank is an environmentalist at heart. Charl has worked with both clay and paint, water has always been a constant theme in his art. In 2014, Charl sculpted the Knysna seahorse as part of the official launch of Knysna Estuary being proclaimed an official international Hope Spot on 7 and 8 December. He also painted a large painting, under water, nicknamed ‘WaterBirth’ which is not at Del Vera, on the way to Stellenbosch.

Available to view

The painting will be available to view at Haut Espoir, a biodynamic farm in the Franschhoek Valley, in their wine cellar on the 15th – 16th September during the Uncorked Festival. Opening time 11h00. The majority of the farm dedicated to fynbos restoration and a riverine ecosystem, hosts a beautiful abundance of indigenous plant, animal life, and farming. The paint used for this project is from Dala, a company who stay on top of science and technology, with nature and conservation in mind. 

What's next

This is only the beginning of the project. Keep an eye out for the exciting plans for the painting.

... and the projects that this painting has inspired.  

‘The painting is an expression of the importance of the river to all of us’