Richard Starke addressing attendees at the unveiling of the theme

KBR’s Message

Team South Africa at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

I want to send off Team South Africa to the Royal Chelsea Flower Show with all the best of wishes that we as KBRC can muster. We are extremely proud of the fact that our biosphere reserve was chosen as the theme of this year’s display. We are sure that you are going to execute the plan excellently and we believe that you are going to be rewarded with the highest accolades. In fact we are so confident that our chairperson Johan West is going to be with you on that day, the 23rd of May 2016, at the prize-giving ceremony.

The inclusion of the idea of a biosphere reserve in your display might have posed a few challenges to you. Lately, I was confronted twice with the question of what my personal understanding of the concept of a biosphere reserve is and what value it holds for me as individual.

Both times by youngsters, firstly at the Harold Porter Botanical Garden by a group of students on a field trip to the KBR, and a few days ago by a film team who are documenting South Africa’s fledging group of eight biosphere reserves in the hope of convincing foreign investors to fund our activities.

Yes, it is easy to talk about the vision, mission and objectives of biosphere reserves, the role that we can play as a vehicle to all spheres of government to meet their international commitments, national programmes and local projects. Words flow easily to describe our role in the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable socio-economic development of communities within our reserves and the never-ending task of building knowledge and sharing it.

In the Kogelberg we love to brag about the richness of the Cape Floral Kingdom, with more or less 1600 fynbos species in our area, and the rich sea around us that is amongst others home to the largest breeding colony of the highly threatened Africa penguin, not to speak of abalone and crayfish species that are both poached to the verge of extinction.

We can ramble on for hours about our plans and projects in our area. But those personal questions bowled me over, until I realized that biosphere reserves are actually about quality of life.

This thin layer around our planet, that we call the biosphere, is all we have to provide vital support to our lives: the air that we breath, the land that we cultivate to produce our food, the water to quench our thirst, the natural beauty to inspire us…

We have destroyed so much of it already that we are on the edge of melting down. We do not have much more chances left. Biosphere reserves are the beginning of taking our quality of life back.

Thank you Team South Africa for helping us to spread the message. Best of luck with this daunting task.

BON VOYAGE!

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  Vol 3, Issue 2 – Chelsea Flower Show: May 2016.