Media statement by Johan West, Chairperson of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve Company
The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve Company is distancing itself from libelous accusations and false information spread in a social media campaign against the erection of a portion of a fence at the Stony Point Penguin Colony in Betty’s Bay.
Neither I as chairperson nor the acting co-ordinating officer of the KBRC were at any time approached by the drivers of the campaign about our official viewpoint on the matter. The ill-informed accusations and claims made on social media are damaging for the image of the company as the custodian of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, and are also negatively affecting relationships between important role-players.
Stony Point, the only colony of African penguins that is known to be expanding while elsewhere the numbers of the species are dwindling, is managed by CapeNature, who on 1 July 2014 assumed the management responsibilities of the colony after an agreement was reached with Overstrand Municipality, who at that stage owned the properties on which the colony was established.
The reason for the transfer stems from a provision in section 38(4) of the NEM:PAA which requires marine and terrestrial protected areas with common boundaries to be managed as an integrated protected area by a single management authority. CapeNature is the management authority for the Betty’s Bay Marine Protected Area.
Also carried over to CapeNature at that stage was a final Record of Decision issued by competent authorities on 2 February 2012, which amongst others required a closed breeding area for the African penguin species.
This was necessitated by the approval of the Biodiversity Management Plan for the African penguin in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act No.10 of 2004), which highlighted the need for the declaration of Stony Point as a formally Protected Area as per Section 23 of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (Act No. 57 of 2003).
This is also fully compatible with UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), an intergovernmental scientific programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments, and which forms the basis of the KBRC role and activities.
UNESCO’s MAB Programme is not specific about any kind of fencing in a biosphere reserve. That is an issue that is dealt with by the management agencies which is specific to each individual biosphere reserve.
MAB combines the natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods and the equitable sharing of benefits, and to safeguard natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate, and environmentally sustainable.
The function of the KBRC is to adhere to these principles, manage the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve accordingly and to create the necessary awareness for the programme. We are part of an international programme with the full support of provincial and national government and certainly not a lobbyist or green activist group.
Like CapeNature, we as the KBRC are funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs and must rely on the integrity of the proposals from CapeNature as being the best solutions to the problems of man living in harmony with nature.
By the same token, we are also an interface with the public and rely on the public to inform us of specific issues that need attention and we will then use our influence to find the best solution.
CHAIRPERSON OF THE KOGELBERG BIOSPHERE RESERVE COMPANY
Enquiries: 061 062 6332
Additional information on UNESCO’s MAB Programme
A biosphere reserve is an area proposed by its residents, ratified by the Department of Environmental Affairs, and designated by UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme, which demonstrates innovative approaches to living and working in harmony with nature. One of the primary objectives of MAB is to achieve a sustainable balance between the goals of conserving biological diversity, promoting economic development, and maintaining associated cultural values.
The term ‘biosphere’ refers to all of the land, water and atmosphere that supply life on earth. The word ‘reserve’ means that it is a special area recognized for balancing conservation with sustainable use. The term ‘reserve’ does not mean that these places are set aside from human use and development. In fact, the study of human use is an important and integral part of the MAB Programme.
Each biosphere reserve demonstrates practical approaches to balancing conservation and human use of an area. They are excellent examples of community-based initiatives that protect our natural environment while ensuring the continued healthy growth of the local economy.
Biosphere reserves recognize that quality economies require quality environments and that conservation is important for both. The MAB Programme is entirely voluntary. Authority over land and water use does not change when a biosphere reserve is designated. Government jurisdictions and private ownership rights remain as they were before designation. The World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently consists of 669 biosphere reserves in 120 countries. There are 70 biosphere reserves in Africa, eight of which in South Africa.
A biosphere reserve is not a new level of bureaucracy, not a World Heritage site, does not create new protected areas, does not create any new regulations and does not restrict the rights of citizens. A biosphere reserve does however support the environmental and social initiatives of municipalities.
A biosphere reserve is therefore in a position to assist municipalities and other administrations with their environmental and social programs. The performance of the biosphere reserve is enhanced through its partnerships with public and private entities.
Biosphere reserves are areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each biosphere reserve promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.
Biosphere reserves are ‘Science for Sustainability support sites’ – special places for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.
Three zones, one biosphere reserve!
Biosphere reserves have three interrelated zones that aim to fulfill three complementary and mutually reinforcing functions:
- The core area(s) comprises a strictly protected ecosystem that contributes to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation.
- The buffer zone surrounds or adjoins the core areas, and is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training and education.
- The transition area is the part of the reserve where the greatest activity is allowed, fostering economic and human development that is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable.
Areas seaward of the Physical Process/Hazard Setback Line in terms of the Integrated Coastal Management Act and amended EIA regulations are included in either Core 2 of Buffer 1 areas (according to the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve Framework Plan of 2012 (that would include Stony Point). These areas are “to restore and maintain ecological processes”.