Restoring the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve

Partner since 2017


The Gouritz Biosphere Reserve is located in the southern part of South Africa, across parts of the Western, Southern and Eastern Cape.

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.


Working towards

Increasing the socio-ecological resilience and sustainability within the biosphere by developing a robust and healthy corridor of 100,000 hectares.


  • the long-term restoration of the Goukou river system, including the clearing of invasive alien plants;
  • the long-term resilience of the ecosystem of the Little Karoo, including the (re)planting of 10,000 hectares of the local Spekboom (Jobs for Carbon);
  • the significant increase of the efficiency of water use in various municipalities, including the introduction of efficient water technologies;
  • the involvement the future generation, by building active Green Clubs in local schools;
  • the establishment of the Vanwyksdorp Development Institute, as a go-to community and training centre.

“What you love, you’ll want to protect”

Meet Linda Fletcher, the newest member of the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR) team in South Africa. With a corporate background, Linda brings a fresh new perspective and energy to the GCBR which immediately resulted in a spontaneous eco-tourism project.

Making a difference by partner engagement: WRI

GCBR and WRI’s Resource Watch teams have worked together on building a customized Resource Watch dashboard of the ecological trends in the GCBR over the last 20 years. The dashboard shows the trends of ecological indicators in the biosphere, with a specific focus on visualizing the effective changes over time.

Making a difference by partner engagement: Crowther Lab

Since the current Spekboom restoration efforts are costly, as it is labour intensive, the teams of GCBR and Crowther Lab (our partner and research group that focusses on generating globally-relevant ecological information) are now exploring a possible collaboration, in which Crowther Lab can help find alternative restoration methods in the Little Karoo region.

– spekboom country ©
– Man carrying Spekboom sideview ©
– Man carrying Spekboom frontview ©
– Woman with noteboard ©
– Close-up green Spekboom ©