Ecology Programmes Building resilience in the GCBR

It is an incredibly unique place in that it is the only area in the world where three global biodiversity hotspots converge: the Fynbos, Succulent Karoo and Maputoland-Tongoland-Albany hotspots. Formal recognition of the Gouritz Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO was attained in 2015.


Threats in this region come from out-dated agricultural practices, invasive alien vegetation, and too frequent and catastrophic fires. Land is being cleared on a large scale for cultivation. Besides this there is a fight against poverty and exclusion.

Large parts of the biosphere reserve are severely water stressed. This is worsened by climate change which already results in less frequent and heavier rainfall leading to more run-off and erosion.


The overall goals is to increase the socio-ecological resilience and sustainability within the biosphere. The programme is structured around the following projects:

  • Goukou Resilient River: reverse biodiversity loss and connect fragmented habitats of the Goukou River system through wetland restoration and clearing of invasive alien plants.
  • Jobs for Carbon: to improve the health and resilience of the ecosystem in the Little Karoo the local Spekboom trees will be planted in large numbers.
  • Water Wise Ways: increase efficiency of water use in 3 towns by facilitating behavioural change interventions and introducing efficient water technologies.
  • Green Clubs: The youth, being the future generation, will be involved by building active Green Clubs in 10 schools.
  • Vanwyksdorp Development Institute: Co-establish the foundation for a field training and resource centre that will increase the availability of eco-skilled human capital.

Building resilience in the GCBR will be led by The Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve

Key features

Landscape  West Cape, where three global biodiversity hotspots meet: Fynbos, Succulent Karoo, Maputo-Albany Thicket
  Gouritz Biosphere Reserve: 3.2 million hectares
Goals for the next 4 years  1050 ha cleared of invasive alien plants
  40 people trained and employed in ecosystem restoration
  250 ha of degraded Spekboom thicket restored
  36 people trained and employed for Spekboom planting
  reduced water use and leaks fixed in 1000 households
  2 artificial wetlands constructed for municipal wastewater treatment
  an ecological corridor that promotes wildlife movement