The listing of Marico Biosphere Reserve is set to benefit local communities in South Africa’s North West province, according to Rural, Environment and Agriculture Development (READ) MEC, Manketsi Tlhape.

The MEC joined in the celebrations of the listing of the biosphere at Phenyo Botlhe Primary School in Groot Marico on Friday (October 12).

The celebrations follow Unesco’s inclusion of the biosphere at the 30th International Coordinating Council sessions of Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme in Indonesia in July.

Following the listing, the provincial government is in the process of establishing the Marico Board. Through the management plan of the reserve, the provincial READ department wants to ensure that there are programmes in place to protect ecological infrastructure while also eradicating poverty. The department envisages that it will be done by empowering women through various programmes.

“While protecting this recharge area, there is opportunity to start conservation projects for women, youth and people living with disabilities,” added Tlhape.

Tebogo Sello, whose passion for biodiversity led him to start a moringa plantation with his friends, said the listing would increase tourism in the area. “The listing of the biosphere means tourists coming to this area will be exposed to our indigenous plants and we will be able to expand our moringa business to include other biodiversity products that are found in the province.”

In addition, the area is rich with natural and cultural heritage value and significant biodiversity of interest. It is South Africa’s 10th area to be listed and the second for the North West province.

The school where the celebrations were held is currently participating in the Eco-Schools Programme, where it is recycling waste material collected within the biosphere. The material is reproduced into jewellery and dolls, educating pupils on the importance of conservation.