Chairman’s Report

1 APRIL 2017- 31 MARCH 2018

It is once again my privilege and pleasure to report to members on the activities of your company during the previous financial year from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018. The year flew by at the speed of lightning and that is normally a sign of a very busy year. Things are happening so fast that it is frustrating to give a report 5 months after the end of the financial year, but we have to have our Financial Statements audited and approved before we have our AGM.


With the first grant from DOB Ecology in February 2017 three projects were funded. The one was a continuation of the now very well known Jobs4Carbon project for another year, the second was the construction of an artificial wetland at the De Rust waste water treatment works and the third was the organizational development of the GCBR as a company. Although the one project was not more important than the other it was the organizational development that required the most energy from a planning and implementation point of view.
This process consisted of several avenues which had to be explored and developed simultaneously. It necessitated the appointment of core staff as well as changes to the compilation of the Board and Advisory Committee.
Two major decisions were taken with regard to the board namely to move away from specific portfolios for board members. We believe that the pure scientific inputs are much more valuable on the implementation and Advisory Committee levels.

Some of the directors were, in the previous dispensation, due to the lack of operational staff quite involved with the implementation of projects and they opted to apply to be appointed as project managers where they were already involved. Operational continuation was also secured in this way.

This made it possible to opt for smaller number of directors with a more diverse combination of knowledge and expertise including some corporate skills, which we think are necessary for the future. The board will now consist of a maximum of 7 directors.


The current board consisted of:

Mr Dick Carr
Mr Cobus Nel
Mr Jan Vlok
Mr Ken Coetzee
Mr Hendrik Visser
Mr Rhett Hiseman

Mr Charles Basson
Mr Andre Britz

and Ms Yvette Potgieter (who was co-opted by the board)
Jan Vlok resigned, but is still very much involved with the GCBR and is currently busy with the mapping of spekboomveld in the Calitzdorp area. Dick Carr has recently resigned and was appointed as the Coordinator of the Ad Com. Andre Britz and Rhett Hiseman were both appointed as the project managers for the Jobs4Carbon and Goukou Resilient River projects respectively.


Six board meetings were held on the following dates:

• 12 April 2017
• 7 June 2017
• 2 August 2017
• 11 October 2017
• 27 November 2017
• 7 February 2018

All the board meetings were held at the Outeniqua Experimental Farm in George and were well attended.


The group has more or less completed its work. It was, however, decided to retain the group with a name change to the OD Group to consider further organization development needs. Discussions have been undertaken to find viable options for Gouritz Enterprises Pty Ltd.


You may or may not be aware of the fact that we registered a for profit company with the GCBR as the sole shareholder. The idea is to find feasible business opportunities with which the company can produce profits to support future administration expenses of the GCBR sustainably. This is not an easy task if one has almost no start up capital available. The board of directors of the company consists of Prof Alan Fowler, Mr Steve du Toit and myself. We shall propose to the GCBR board to inform the SAR$ that the company status will become dormant for the moment. This means the company will cost us very little money to maintain annually, but can become operational immediately when the right opportunity arises.


Four meetings were held on the following dates:

• 16 May 2017
• 15 August 2017
• 14 November 2017
• 20 February 2018

These meetings are always well attended, the presentations very informative and offers the perfect opportunity to mingle and network.

CapeNature needed Annelise somewhere else and arranged with us that she be replaced with the able and willing Dr Alan Wheeler. She seriously resisted her and her superiors has given permission that she may carry on arranging the members’ meetings for which we are thankful.


In January this year we started the process to advertise the three core positions of the Chief Executive, Project Development Specialist and the Learning and Evaluation Specialist. Mr Roy Steele of the independent human resource company, Steele and Associates, led this project. Dr Steve du Toit was appointed as Chief Executive and Ms Wendy Crane was appointed as the Project Development Specialist. Unfortunately we did not find a suitable candidate for the Learning and Evaluation position. A temporary arrangement was made with Myles Mander who offered his services to assist with the setting up of the learning and evaluation process with inputs from Alan Fowler.

After Steve took up office he appointed Ms Karin Coetzee as the fulltime bookkeeper and Ms Marinda van As in charge of Administration. A number of Project Managers have also been appointed and all are working full steam. The project managers are appointed for different periods depending on the lifespan of the project.


List of projects undertaken during the financial year and beyondResponsible person
DOB Jobs for CarbonAndre Britz
DOB WaterWiseWaysSusan Botha
DOB Vanwyksdorp Dev. Institute PartnershipGerhardt Oosthuizen
DOB Green ClubsAndre Britz
DOB Programme Development ProcessWendy Crane
DOB Organisational DevelopmentSteve du T oit
TMF Spekboom EconomyWendy Crane
SCCS Carbon OffsetSteve du Tait
GCBR General FundSteve du Tait
DEADPSteve du Tait
GRCCT School Posters & PuzzlesMary Carr
GRCCT Spring Party for the EnvironmentSusan Botha
GRCCT Keep Fin AliveEsther Jacobs Overbeeke
Municipality Mossel Bay Puppet ShowMarina Eilers
GRCCT Marine Puppet showMarina Eilers
GRCCT Spring Party for the EnvironmentSusan Botha / Charles Sasson
GCBR Wonderbag ProjectMary Carr / Charles Basson
GCBR EducationAndre Britz


Most of you are well aware of our growing relationship with DOB Ecology in the Netherlands who have visited us on a number of occasions. They have also invited Steve, Wendy and myself to visit them at their offices during early 2017. Maas Goote, the CEO suggested during that visit that they would like to have a workshop/conference of all their partners. Of all the possible locations around the world they chose to have the GCBR host the event at the Rooiberg Lodge in Van Wyksdorp from 18 – 22 June 2018. Approximately 30 people from North and South America, Europe and Africa attended and it proved to be a huge success.
Steve was for the second time in a row in 2017 invited to attend the meeting of the World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves on Jeju Island off the South Korean coast and again this year on Minorca Island, Spain. He must have impressed the organisers on his 50th birthday as they asked whether the GCBR will host the meeting in September 2019. He is already busy with the arrangements!
DOB also invited Steve to a launch in Washington by World Resource Institute of their Resource Watch project for which DOB has made funding available.
Flowing from the interaction with all the DOB partners in June Steve had further discussions with Tom Crowther from the Crowther Lab within the Zurich University in Switzerland and Steve recommended that we host a field laboratory in Van Wyksdorp which Crowther Lab can util􀀢ze to monitor the interaction between above ground and underground biomass. Our office in Van Wyksdorp can easily serve the purpose.
We are also considering the possibility to twin with a foreign biosphere in the near future. Possibly in one of the Scandinavian countries.


We have been very fortunate during this past year to purchase movable assets such as bakkies, office furniture and computers.

These are necessary to implement the projects for which we have signed up.

What excites me more is the fact that we were able to register the farm donated to us by Assegaay Bosch Ranch Pty Ltd, which we manage with the adjacent properties bought by the WWF as a contract nature reserve known as Rietkraal Nature Reserve close to Van Wyksdorp. The property is already used to train students in courses such as fencing, erosion control and veld restoration.

We also managed to purchase a house in Riversdale to set up a permanent office. The building has been rezoned for office purposes and renovated. Do take the time to visit the property at 2 Barry Street – opposite the sports grounds of the Langenhoven High School enroute to Ladismith.


For the first time we have been in a financial position to allocate funding for this purpose. Because we do not do projects for the show but rather to make a real significant difference in the lives of people and the environment we lack to promote our results. That is why it is so important to have a Learning and Evaluation Specialist in our core team to document what has been done for future reference and for others to learn from.

People, however, only take note of successful institutions and if we neglect to spread the message we’ll miss an opportunity to gain respect, support, further funding and hopefully bequests. What a way to prevent your kids from fighting over your estate and leaving a meaningful legacy!

Registering our logo as a trade mark was one step in the direction of setting up a corporate identity. The Marketing Team under the leadership of Luami Zondagh supported by Nikki du Toit and Alyson Horsley are doing excellent work. The Tour de Gouritz Mountain Bike Tour over 5 days through several towns in our domain will prove in future to be a good way to make us more visible and showcase our biosphere to participants from all over South Africa.


Although the GCBR and the Van Wyksdorp Development Institute (VDI) are both autonomous companies we have a very close relationship with both Andre Britz and myself serving as directors on their board. We also managed to obtain funding to erect the first building which will form part of the VDI campus. This building will be available for the GCBR to utilize as an exhibition area.
The VDI is already offering theoretical and practical courses to local people in their area with good results as mentioned earlier in this report.


I can never end off a report without conveying my sincere gratitude to so many people and entities who made this past year so successful. In no specific order I wish to thank:

• Maas Goote and his amazing team at DOB Ecology, their Board and their Advisory Board not only for the funding but also for their friendship and leadership, which has played a major role i’n our existence this past year.
• The Hessequa and Mossel Bay Municipalities for their contributions.
• The Garden Route Casino Community Trust for their numerous contributions.
• The Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs & Development Planning for their annual contribution and their support for our company.
• The Table Mountain Fund who is always supportive when we knock on their door with a proposal.
• Our very loyal and supportive members – especially the faithful who attend every meeting no matter where the location is.
• Pieter and Hanna Coetzee for all the small things that are often not noticed but makes a huge difference and then for the donations of the Rietkraal farm to the GCBR and the land in Van Wyksdorp where the VDI campus is being constructed.
• CapeNature for their very loyal support and the knowledge which they share so freely.
• LandCare for their support and the use of their facilities at Outeniqua and Oudtshoorn Experimental Farms. They always make their facilities available to us at no cost.
• The Landmark Foundation who allowed us to partner with them on their Green Clubs project.
• Those directors who have resigned as well as those still serving for your contributions as well as those members who served as members of the previous Technical Committee.
• All the very able presenters for their informative presentations.
• All staff – especially the Jobs4Carbon teams who set such high standards, which creates a hard act to follow.
• All the landowners who make it possible to implement projects on their land.
• And if I have omitted a name please forgive me. I have not done so on purpose. There are so many people who encourage us by a spoken word, an email or a sms.

I thank you for the privilege.

Willem Botha Chairperson