Gouritz declared a World Biosphere Reserve
The Gouritz Cluster in the southern Cape has been declared a world biosphere reserve in June 2015. MCSA members from the South Cape Section were involved in the process. South Africa now has eight recognised biosphere reserves: Gouritz (2015), Magaliesberg (2015), Kogelberg (1998), Cape West Coast Extension (2003), Waterberg (2001), Kruger to Canyons (2001), Cape Winelands (2007), Vhembe (2009). It is hoped that the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve will be declared in the near future, too.
The Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve covers an area of more than three million hectares and straddles the Eastern and Western Cape Provinces. The area is globally unique as it is the only area in the world where three recognised biodiversity hotspots — the Fynbos, Succulent Karoo and Maputoland-Tongoland-Albany hotspots — converge.
The entire biosphere domain falls within the Cape Floristic Kingdom which is the smallest, but one of the richest of the six floral kingdoms in the world, and the only one found entirely within the boundaries of one country.
The Gouritz Reserve is home to high levels of endemic plant species, threatened invertebrates and butterfly species. It also provides a migratory route for large mammals and serves as a nursery for marine species. Due to its immense historical significance, the biosphere reserve includes three components of the internationally renowned Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site.