On the southern edge of Africa lies a place all humans can call 'home' – the place where almost 200 000 years ago our earliest modern ancestors began their journey across Africa and the world. This place is located in the heart of the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR). The GCBR is not only exceptional in terms of its palaeolandscape, it is also globally unique as it is the only area in the world where three recognized biodiversity hotspots, the Fynbos, Succulent Karoo and Maputoland-Tongoland-Albany hotspots, converge. The entire domain falls within the Cape Floristic Region - the smallest, but one of the richest of the six floral kingdoms of the world. The Biosphere Reserve is therefore naturally rich in endemic plant species, with at least 670 of the ca. 5 000 plant species present endemic to the Biosphere Reserve. Even the arid inland portion of the Biosphere Reserve is rich in endemic species, with at least 400 of the 3 200 plant species restricted to the Biosphere Reserve. The GCBR is also home to 18 formally protected areas, as part of the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site, inscribed by UNESCO in 2004. All these attributes and many more make the GCBR a truly unique area worthy of its Biosphere Reserve status, and as a place to be cherished and protected.
“Jobs for Carbon: Developing carbon farming in the Klein Karoo”– a flagship initiative which combines job creation with conservation. Carbon farming involves the re-establishment of badly degraded spekboom veld through planting spekboom cuttings, allowing the plants to grow a natural canopy, and then leaving the land undisturbed and free from grazing pressures for many years. Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) has a natural capacity to store large amounts of carbon and this enables the generation of income through the sale of carbon credits in national or international markets. This programme offers many benefits; new jobs created in poor, rural communities, new income streams from the sale of carbon credits, restored natural environment attracting more tourism, improved rainwater infiltration, and more! In addition to the Jobs for Carbon project the GCBR is home to many other successful projects, including a constructed wetlands project in De Rust, various environmental education programmes, an environmental commercial enterprise derived from the Jobs for Carbon project (#spekkies) and various other community-uplifting projects, such as the water-wise-ways project which fixes leaking taps in townships and communities.
UNESCO Designation: 2015
Management Entity: Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve Non-prot Company
Total Area: 3 187 893 ha, including a marine portion of 3 169.5 ha
Core Zone: 605 675.3 ha (terrestrial);
3 169.5 ha (marine)
Buffer Zone: 1 966 593.8 ha
Transition Zone: 612 454.4 ha