KBRC’s Annual General Meeting 2015
At our Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 25 November 2015 at the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens in Betty’s Bay I had the opportunity to highlight some of the important milestones on the KBRC’s road of progress during the past year:
- During December 2014 we were fortunate to get the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Authority on board as co-funder with the Table Mountain Fund for our community empowerment projects. We were also involved with activities to have the Cape Whale Coast declared as an international Hope Spot and had the renowned Sylvia Earle at an event at Stony Point, while we also participated in the Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot Exhibition in Hermanus. We strengthened our ties with the local community of Kleinmond with our Christmas Shoebox Project 2014 when Mthimkhulu Village Educare’s Centre’s children and teachers were the beneficiaries.
- In February 2015 the KBRC as South Africa’s oldest biosphere reserve was part and parcel of the first Biosphere Reserves’ Awareness Event in the Wilderness. The interaction with relevant government officials and other role-players was very important and a lot of positives flowed from this event.
- April 2015 offered us the unique opportunity to interact with the Minister of Tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom, when the upgraded facilities at Stony Point Nature Reserve were officially opened by him on Friday 10 April 2015. What an excellent example we had in this development to demonstrate UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere programme in which three very different but equal aims are pursued: conservation of genetic resources, species and ecosystems, scientific research and monitoring and the promotion of sustainable development for communities in the surrounding region. Biosphere reserves are places where communities can work together with the land-managing agencies, local governments, schools and other institutions in dealing with political, economic and social pressures that affect the ecological and cultural values of each particular area. Another highlight in April was to meet with our first Mapula Fellowship Award student, Julia van Schalkwyk, who attended our forum meeting and explained to us what her doctoral research in our area will entail.
- During June 2015 we were part of a Western Cape Biosphere Reserves’ delegation to a provincial MinMayTech (the technical committee for the consultation forum of the Western Cape Minister of Local Government and Executive Mayors of the province). Our presentation was very important in the process of creating better understanding of our mission and role in society. An unexpected windfall was that an article on the Kogelberg appeared in the June edition of the SAA’s in flight magazine Sawubona, which was the centre of attraction at an event where Sawubona received international recognition, giving us also the same exposure. Our offices moved to a more visible location in Kleinmond, namely the premises of the Hangklip-Kleinmond Tourism Bureau.
- TMF Board visited our community upliftment projects during July 2015 and were very impressed.
- During August 2015 we hosted the conference of CAPE LIKE, which is not a club of Mother City fans but an acronym for the Cape Action Plan for People and the Environment’s Landscape Initiatives Knowledge Exchange. This 20 year partnership programme, coordinated by the South African National Biodiversity Institute, aims to unite government and civil society in a strategy to conserve and restore the biodiversity of the Cape Floristic Region and the adjacent marine environment, while delivering significant benefits to the people of the region. Present at the conference were representatives of the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve, Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve, Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve, the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve, Agulhas Biosphere Initiative, Baviaanskloof Conservation Area, Umgeni Biosphere Reserve, Eden to Addo Corridor Initiative, Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor, the Dassenberg Coastal Catchment Partnership, CapeNature, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa, Birdlife South Africa and the University of Cape Town. The significance of this conference cannot be underestimated, while at the same time it was inspiring to see what is being done by similar organisations to us. We once again participated in the Cape Floral Kingdom Expo in Bredasdorp at the end of August and attracted a lot of interest from the public in our activities.
- The launch of the special gold and sterling silver Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve coins at the end of September 2015 created worldwide awareness for us and also opened up other opportunities of which I will give more details later in this newsletter.
- We received an invitation to attend an international workshop for coastal and island biosphere reserves at Jeju in South Korea during October 2015. What an eye-opener this was for me about the great potential we have in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve as a tourist and educational attraction, but to achieve this we must think big and get the co-operation of all. I will also expand a bit more on this later in our newsletter.
- During November and December 2015 we had promising interactions with the local authorities of Cape Town and Overstrand Municipality. Flowing from this, Cape Town’s portfolio committee on Tourism, Events and Marketing asked for a site visit to the Kogelberg, which will hopefully take place early in the new year.
- I also made mention of the following developments:
- Our technical committee chairperson, dr Ruida Pool-Stanvliet, played a leading role in the development of a National MAB (Man and Biosphere) Strategy during the year.
- The KBRC received Section 18A status as a Public Benefit Organisation in terms of the Income Tax Act and private individuals and companies have now the benefit of deducting donations to us of up to 5 percent of their taxable income on their annual returns.
- KBR Forum meetings were held in April and August and a field excursion in June.
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