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The GI… Who? Where and How?

Who?

The Gouritz Initiative (GI) owes its existence to the worldwide hotspots programme which has identified 27 biodiversity hotspots. Three of these biome hotspots fall within the GI domain. These biomes are identified below along with their respective biodiversity initiatives.

  1. Subtropical Thicket - typical plants include aloes, "spekboom" and "noem-noem".
    STEP (Subtropical Ecosystem Programme)
  2. Succulent Karoo - typical plants include crassulas, "plakkies" and "vygies".
    SKEP (Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme)
  3. Fynbos / Cape Floral Kingdom - typical plants include Ericas, Proteas and Restio's.
    CAPE (Cape Action for People and the Environment)

A World Hotspot

Biodiversity hotspots are important because at least 1500 species must be endemic to the biome and thus unique to the region ( Endemic means that a specific plant species only grows in a specific area and nowhere else on earth or even elsewhere in South Africa ! ). At the same time, at least 70% of the hotspot area must have been transformed by human activity ( e.g. establishment of towns, farming, tourism, recreation ).

The main objective of the roleplayers in the Gouritz Initiative domain is to conserve the remaining biodiversity in the region by taking ownership of the sustainable utilisation of the unique biodiversity to be found here. This area can gain worldwide recognition by building partnerships, creating ongoing awareness programmes and by taking responsible decisions which will benefit all the people in the region, now and in the future.

Where ?

The estimated borders of the GI domain were determined by input from workshops with scientists ( aquatic, earth and archeological ) as well as workshops with the socio-economic sectors ( agriculture, tourism and local government ). A Geographical Information System(GIS) has been developed as a result of the information gathered from these workshops.

The GI domain has been divided into 5 independent management sectors. These sectors represent total landscapes with similar conditions and problems that are characteristic of each region.

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How ?

Information obtained from the various inputs can and has been used to identify important new projects in the region and to motivate the funding necessary for these projects. The power of the GI lies in the people who are getting involved in such a positive manner. Through it's strategic business plan, the GI is planning to create a living landscape where humans and nature can exist together in such a way that the biodiversity of the region can flourish.

The Road Ahead

To live in an area where three internationally recognised biodiversity hotspots converge is a huge privilege. With the knowledge that these biomes are seriously endangered comes the responsibility for all inhabitants of the region to ensure that there is no further loss of biodiversity. It is essential that landowners and people making use of the land in the Gouritz area take responsibility for the correct use and management of the valuable resources in this unique area.

Source: Gouritz Initiative


  Article Date: 21 December 2004

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