SIERRA GORDA (MEXICO) AND
WATERBERG (SOUTH AFRICA) JOIN WORLD NETWORK OF UNESCO BIOSPHERE RESERVES
Paris, March 22 (No.2001-46) -
Two new sites, Sierra Gorda in Mexico and Waterberg in South Africa, have been
named as Biosphere Reserves by the Bureau of UNESCO’s intergovernmental Man
and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, during a meeting at UNESCO Headquarters
(March 21 to 23).
Approved, appropriately enough,
on World Water Day which is celebrated on March 22 every year, the Waterberg
Biosphere Reserve is located in the Northern Province of South Africa. The
415,000 hectare Waterberg serves as a natural water reservoir for the
arid Northern Province. It is an area of low mountain ranges and escarpments
with poor soils and a relatively low level of economic activity.
The other major asset of the
Waterberg Biosphere Reserve is that it is an attractive location for the
development of nature-based tourism. Here, cattle farmers are increasingly
converting their land to nature reserves for safari-type activities. The
biosphere reserve concept will help balance the pressure of tourism industry,
the need to generate direct, tangible benefits for local communities, and the
conservation of these natural assets.
The 400,000 hectare Biosphere
Reserve of Sierra Gorda is located in the State of Queretaro, Northern Mexico.
Its geographic location has made it the habitat of plants and animals which
are typical of the mountains of North America, Meso-America and South America,
thus combining to make Sierra Gorda one of the most biologically diverse places
of Mexico. Its population of 90,000 inhabitants is mainly engaged in large-scale
cattle raising, seasonal agriculture and forestry.
In 2000, a Management Plan was
launched as a result of the joint effort of the Mexican government,
non-governmental organizations and the local communities to develop the
sustainability of agricultural production and the restoration of degraded
The two new biosphere reserves
are now part of the World Network of 393 sites in 94 countries. Biosphere
reserves are nominated by the countries concerned as pilot sites for conserving
biological diversity and promoting sustainable development for rural
communities, backed up by scientific research and training. The MAB Bureau is
the executive body of the MAB International Co-ordinating Council and has the
function of advising on the development of the Programme, including the approval
of biosphere reserve proposals.
More information on the UNESCO
MAB Programme and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves can be found on www.unesco.org/mab