The listing of the Marico Biosphere Reserve is set to benefit local communities in the North West, says Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ) MEC Manketsi Tlhape.
The MEC joined in the celebrations of the listing of the biosphere at Phenyo Botlhe Primary School in Groot Marico on Friday.
The celebrations follow on the United Nations Education and Scientific Organisation (Unesco) inclusion of the biosphere at the 30th International Coordinating Council (ICC) sessions of Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme in Indonesia in July.
Following the listing, the provincial government is in the process of establishing the Marico Board. Through the management plan of the reserve, the provincial READ department wants to ensure that there are programmes in place to protect ecological infrastructure while also eradicating poverty. The department envisions this will be done by empowering women through various programmes.
As a recharge area for fresh water, Marico is critical to ensuring the sustainable supply of drinking water for residents as well as neighbouring countries, including Botswana and Zimbabwe.
“While protecting this recharge area, there is opportunity to start conservation projects for women, youth and people living with disabilities,” said Tlhape.
The school at which the celebrations were held is currently participating in the Eco-Schools Programme, where it is recycling waste material collected within the biosphere. The material is reproduced into jewellery and dolls.
Project manager for the schools programme, Cathy Zerefos, said while educating pupils about the importance of conservation, it is also important to impart entrepreneurial skills to them.
Exhibitors at the celebrations were also enthusiastic about the listing. Tebogo Sello, whose passion for biodiversity led him to start a moringa plantation with his friends, said the listing will increase tourism in the area.
“The listing of the biosphere means tourists coming to this area will be exposed to our indigenous plants and we will be able to expand our moringa business to include other biodiverse products that are found in the province,” Sello said.
The area is also rich with natural and cultural heritage value and significant biodiversity of interest. It is South Africa’s 10th area to be listed and the second for the North West province to get Unesco’s nod. - SAnews.gov.za