A Brief History on the Biosphere

Established in terms of South African Company Law in 1998 for the purposes of establishing and managing the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve.
The CWCBR was eventually designated a Biosphere Reserve in terms of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MaB) programme in 2000.

This Reserve now forms part of the International Network of Biosphere Reserves. It covers some 370 000 hectares of coastal plain and also has a marine component. The CWCBR stretches from the Diep River in Cape Town to the Berg River in the north, and inland to the east and includes critically endangered ecosystems and vegetation identified within the Cape Floral Kingdom. Wikipedia

The CWCBR Company is essentially a social enterprise. The overarching goals of Biosphere Reserves generally – namely the conservation of bio diversity and the stimulation of sustainable development and the nature of the CWCBR Company as a non-profit organisation, mean that the business plan is underpinned by a social agenda.

Social and environmental outputs are sought through the actions of the company, rather than profit-maximisation or other financial goals.
Financial resources however play a key role in the management of the CWCBR. The optimal use of limited resources is thus a key departure point.
As a membership-based Not for Profit Organisation, we consider that the interests, aspirations and needs of our members and partners provide the fundamental basis and direction for our work in information-sharing and building relationships.

The Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve will therefore seek to fulfil the following objectives: to promote, facilitate and contribute to the sharing of information, resources and experiences within and between individuals, communities, NGOs, our partners, local organizations and government in order to improve the quality and impact of sustainable development; research and socioeconomic development within the CWCBR to facilitate and co-ordinate relationships, networks, deliverables, beneficiation and planning between its stakeholders Membership is open to all individuals, NGO’s, institutes, universities, companies, industries, businesses, associations and friends.

All our members support the work of the Biosphere Reserve through payment of an annual membership fee,
which provides our core operational budget.


Quick Facts

Did you know that...

  • It is the only Biosphere run by elected volunteers (others are run by state employees).
  • It is the only biosphere that has a nuclear power station and an oil refinery.
  • It is the only biosphere with a toxic dump site.
  • It is the only biosphere that encompasses a city boundary.
  • It is an excellent venue for shore-based whale watching, and is not not overcrowded like most other spots.
  • It includes the fastest expanding residential area in South Africa (Parklands/Table View).
  • It has been ignored historically by botanists and other academics as having no real merit.
  • It includes a RAMSAR site (Langebaan lagoon) with a deep-sea harbour to accommodate ore carriers.
  • It includes Dassen Island, one of only two breeding sites in the country for Pelicans, (the other is St. Lucia.) as well as the largest penguin colony.
  • It is the hub of the pelagic fishing industry, based in Saldanha.
  • Yzerfontein harbour produces the largest amount of line fish in the country.
  • It has the largest colony of gannets, based at Lamberts Bay.
  • It has a Fossil park.
  • Groote Post vineyard produces Chardonnay of choice for SAA business class and has won many awards.
  • Darling Cellars, the largest local producer of a fine selection of wines is based in the Biosphere.
  • Most large industries in the area are currently BEE compliant.
  • The Swartland wheat fields described as the "Breadbasket of South Africa" are part of the Biosphere.
  • Langebaan hosts the largest hobie cat sailing regatta in the country every Easter weekend.
  • The World championship sailboard competition is annually held at Big Bay.
  • Blouberg is one of the top five kite surfing venues in the world.
  • The Berg River estuary is one of the largest salt producers in country (Cerebos).
  • It is the home of the dried fish industry (Bokkems).
  • It has an excellent climate, lower rainfall and warmer winters than Cape Town; and cooler summers owing to the cold Atlantic
  • It still has large open spaces and a BIG blue unpolluted sky.

If you would like to know more about the biosphere please visit our website