The WESSA Midmar to Albert Falls Biosphere Initiative, generously funded by the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF), is currently introducing the concept of a Biosphere Reserve to private and public sector organisations and will soon be extending the discussions to liaise more intensively with locals in the area. The response to the idea of a Biosphere Reserve has at this stage been positive and if the application is supported, and Biosphere Reserve status is designated by UNESCO, it would become the first internationally registered Biosphere Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.
The project was initiated in August 2014 and, as the project name suggests, the Midmar to Albert Falls Biosphere Reserve initiative was originally planned for the Umgeni Valley area extending from Midmar Dam to Albert Falls. This would include some of the area’s nature reserves, conservancies and stewardship sites and would raise awareness for the need to protect these delicate ecosystems whilst ensuring that human activities continue in a sustainable manner.
The project management team attended the 8th South African National Man and Biosphere (MAB) summit held in the spectacular Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve in September this year, where the idea was introduced to other Designated Biosphere Reserves and National Government agencies and met with general approval. This summit provided the team with guidance and support from the other Biosphere Reserves which will help ensure that the project is a success.
Based on the feedback that we have received to date, it is encouraging to note that there is real interest from a number of stakeholders to incorporate a larger area into the initial Biosphere Reserve!