For immediate release
26 July 2018
MARICO LISTED AS UNESCO BIOSPHERE RESERVE
Mahikeng-The official announcement of listing of Marico as a Biosphere through the United Nations Education and Scientific Organisation was made at the 30th International Coordinating Council (ICC) sessions of Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme sitting at Indonesia yesterday. The delegation led by the Head Of Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ), Dr Poncho Mokaila accepted the International accolade on behalf of South Africa.
This announcement took place as part of the six days sitting of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisations’ MAB programme to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments. 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 North West Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ) has been on an intensive process application to ensure the listing. Speaking during the acceptance session Dr Poncho Mokaila said the road to secure the honour was not easy. “The public engagement process, the development of the management plan and the compilation of the biosphere nomination dossier for the listing of the unique freshwater system was commissioned three years ago but we had to use the lessons learnt from Magaliesberg Biosphere nomination application to our advantage and to ensure that we get our facts right away,” Dr Mokaila highlighted.
MEC Manketsi Tlhape has equally expressed her delight at the honour and said the current administration has made strides in rebranding and repositioning the province. “This clearly reflects a society that has interpreted the vision of the administration so well and has lived up to the expectation of the communities,” she said. “The onus is now upon the Marico management body to ensure that the Biosphere will reach its goal of maximising conservation of the natural environment, sustainable development, advancement of research programmes and social upliftment,” she emphasised.
The Marico River is considered to be the only inland free-flowing river in South Africa which is still in a natural condition. The Marico region has also been identified as an important water recharge area, supplying clean water to surrounding communities and neighbouring countries, namely Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The Marico biosphere therefore is a good example to showcase sustainable economic, social and environmental development.
The biosphere reserve has a remarkable aquifer which is visible through the clear, unpolluted mountain streams emanating from the area. A large majority of dolomitic ‘eyes’ are located within the biosphere area. These culminate in the formation of the Groot Marico River, which at its source can be described as the southern-most distributary of the Limpopo River, located on an international border. Marico is an area of scenic beauty, unique natural features, rich natural and cultural heritage value and significant biodiversity of interest. This justified the need for its protection and sustainable utilization, which led to the listing with the Man and Biosphere Programme.
MEC Tlhape has applauded all stakeholders who supported the listing process including landowners and communities and expressed her gratitude to their dedication. She further indicated that initiatives within the Biosphere Reserve will be driven by the local community and through a public participatory approach, using an integrated management plan.
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