Michael du Toit, chairperson of the Kogelberg Biosphere Company

Focus on the Positive


The biosphere reserve concept is not complicated. It becomes complicated if you cannot wrap your mind around inclusive living.

Although research is required to learn the best possible practices for sustainable living, the principle and ethos thereof and of sustainable development, are within reach of each individual who is willing to embrace them.

Whereas in a game reserve the primary objective is preserving the animals, for which purpose fences are required, the primary focus in a biosphere reserve is the people who populate it, and most importantly – on dealing with the impoverished: the previously disadvantaged. Fences should not be required.

Unlike a game reserve, you cannot control people by forcibly relocating them to a more “suitable site”.

However any form of lawlessness does not work in a biosphere reserve. If we want to reduce fencing, we need a law-abiding community.

We need a very clever, simple-to-follow strategy to become law abiding citizens.

At the same time, we should remember that it is extremely difficult to be law abiding if you are very hungry. The “advantaged” amongst us might find this difficult to understand.

One of the drawbacks and challenges we must accept, is that we live in a non-compliant society and this requires a massive change of attitude by the leaders first and foremost. If wealthy, influential people start complying and are prepared to make some sacrifices, the rest will slowly but surely follow.

Adhering to the ethos of a biosphere reserve is NOT compulsory. However, where exceptional leadership is present, it will persuade the majority and this could be sufficient. Getting the influential minority to buy in, is the key. Unfortunately the really wealthy, who are often the most influential, are also the ones with the most to lose in an inclusive living environment and are likely to not want to participate.

It becomes complicated when you try mix exclusive living into a concept that relies on inclusiveness.

We come from an extremely segregated background, with the desire for an exclusive lifestyle deeply embedded in us.

  • Job creation is now paramount in dealing with the poor.
  • Transition areas must be developed to their maximum sustainable potential.
  • We can’t afford any “white elephants”.
  • Developments must take place in line with strict forward-thinking and sustainable living standards.

In conclusion, let’s embrace ALL the people who already reside here in this amazing part of the world and do everything possible to improve life for all.

Michael du Toit

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  Vol 4, Issue 3 – November 2017
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