Western Cape Game and Nature ReservesThe Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve
The Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR) contains the coastal strip between the Breede River and the Great Brak River, and the interior area from Montagu in the west, to Prince Albert in the north, and Uniondale in the east.
Much of the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve reserve falls in the Klein Karoo: the area north of the Outeniqua Mountains that feeds the Gouritz River.
The Klein Karoo is a beautiful space. Its wide landscapes, the solitude and spiritual calm of the scenery hewn with mountains, koppies and unusual vegetation, making it extremely popular to visitors from across the globe.
The vegetation of the Klein Karoo, and the adjacent coastal plain, includes 4 500 species of plants that occur nowhere else on Earth, over 70% of which has been damaged, largely due to human intervention. As a result the Klein Karoo has three recognised biodiversity hotspots that need protection - Fynbos, Succulent Karoo, and Valley Thicket. They support a huge number of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
To add further stress to the delicate balancing act, the Klein Karoo is also water-stressed. Its rainfall is low and the water catchments and rivers have been degraded. The need to protect the Klein Karoo and its adjacent coastline resulted in the establishment of the GCBR in 2011.
It is a community-based initiative that aims to save the Klein Karoo from further damage. At the same time it works to provide decent livelihoods based on sustainable use of the Klein Karoo's resources, and also partners with existing nature reserves, and private landowners, to encourage conservation-conscious farming.
Some of the GCBR's work includes:
• clearing alien vegetation with the aid of the government's Working for Water programme
• rehabilitating wetlands with the help of the Working for Wetlands project, where locals are trained to build gabion weirs, earth berms and stone weirs
• monitoring the overall health of the rivers of the Klein Karoo, using the South African Scoring System to assesses the presence or absence of certain species of macroinvertebrates as an indicator
• encouraging the switch from flood irrigation, to drip or spray
• providing sustainable work – restios for thatching; proteas for export; fynbos honey; aloe ferox for medicine and cosmetics
• exploring landstewardship options with landowners – conservancies, private reserves, game farms – to limit further damage to natural vegetation
Popular Attractions in and near Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve
Just south west of Uniondale is the Potjiesberg pass, the Prince Alfred Pass lies on the R339 on the other side of Avontuur towards Knysna, and Uniondale Poort, which also lies on the R339 but links the towns of Uniondale and Avontuur, is on the...
More info and contact details: Uniondale Poort
The Spitzkop viewpoint is the highest point above Knysna. Drive, or hike up there and you will find one of the best panoramic views of the town and outlying areas. Some have described it as the best view in the country. Spitzkop lies on the Prince...
More info and contact details: Spitzkop Viewpoint