Annual Report (April 2022 – March 2023)
A MESSAGE FROM OUR CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS – HENDRIK VISSER
During challenging economic circumstances, often resulting in below average economic growth of the country, I often wonder what the real impact of our Biosphere Reserve (BR) is on the sustainability of our domain. Living and working within the domain of a BR I realise the impact of the reserve on Conservation, Biodiversity, Employment and eventually on the quality of life of our people and am therefore grateful and privileged to be able to live within an area where I notice the impact of the GCBR by improving human health and well-being.
Through our programmes such as the Gouritz Ecological Corridors (GCP), the Gouritz Restoration (GRP) and supporting activities like organisational development, fundraising development, media, marketing, communications research and education we managed to establish ourselves as an important role player in achieving the objectives of a resilient and resourceful BR.
Strategic engagements continued with our donors and resulted in more fundraising opportunities/ proposals. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our donors for their contribution towards donor funded projects.
A word of thanks goes to the Board of Directors, stakeholders, project managers and field workers for their ongoing support and interest in the GCBR.
I wish to note that there were changes to the Board of Directors in January and February 2023. Louis Jordaan resigned as a Director on 26 January 2023. Ken Coetzee resigned as a Director on 19 February 2023 and Chris Horsley resigned as Chairman and Director on 19 February 2023. The remaining GCBR Directors are carefully considering their options regarding the appointment of new Directors.
As we go forward in our endeavours, we are confident that our BR is acting as an adaptive and flexible organisation which responds quickly to challenging and changing environments.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR CHIEF EXECUTIVE, DR STEVE DU TOIT
The protection and restoration of natural ecosystems are possibly the most urgent and important activities that humans can become involved in.
Natural ecosystems provide crucial habitat and ecosystem services (clean water, pollination, nutrient recycling, climate regulation, disease control, carbon sequestration, and maintain soil fertility) which benefit all of us.
Of increasing importance as the global human population grows, natural ecosystems:
- are linked to physical and mental well-being; in addition, many people have cultural and spiritual connections to natural landscapes;
- are valuable living laboratories for scientific research, are key to our understanding of the natural world, and can inspire innovations and solutions to environmental challenges;
- are sources of sustainable resources such as fish, game, and plant products for medicinal use;
- are resilient to natural disasters; our coastal wetlands and dune systems act as natural barriers that help protect communities from flood and storm events.
Given their value and properties, we have an ethical obligation to protect, re-connect and restore natural ecosystems. The destruction of ecosystems will lead to the suffering of other species, the loss of irreplaceable elements of the Earth’s heritage, and compromise the health and well-being of future generations.
Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence that natural ecosystems should be protected, restored and re-connected, recent global reports** reflect significant decreases in most aspects of ecosystem functioning and health.
The GCBR NPC thus focuses on developing meaningful, long-term partnerships towards the restoration of landscapes and ecosystems that will support future generations. We continue to catalyse change towards solving of humanities’ biggest issues: the disconnect between people and nature.
We encourage you as always to make your voice heard and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During 2023, the GCBR refined its focus and mission: To restore and effectively manage the ecosystems on which all life in the GCBR domain depends.
It also defined its values to include:
Over the reporting period, and through generous donor funding and community support, our projects:
- Strengthened ecological corridors across 40 000 hectares of vulnerable mountain and coastal ecosystems.
- Engaged with more than 50 landowners, encouraging robust partnerships towards more resilient land management.
- Catalysed two nature-based enterprises.
- Commenced restoration of over 5 000 hectares of highly biodiverse habitats, in both arid and coastal environments.
- Created about 16 000 person days, providing valuable employment to rural communities.
- Initiated interesting and practically useful research, e.g., Erosion control guidelines; Carbon storage of wetlands, and The effects of habitat loss on threatened bird species (https://resources.gouritz.com/)
- Encouraged over 200 children, through our Environmental Clubs programme, to grow their knowledge and appreciation of natural ecosystems.
The GCBR team continues to seek funding to expand its wide-ranging activities within our domain. While we have learned many lessons from our projects, our vision continues to inspire and drive us:
People and nature living in harmony
Your continued support and encouragement is most appreciated! Subscribe to us and become further informed and involved – Support & Donate | Get Involved | Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve
Dr Steve Du Toit