UNESCO: The PM Unveils Announcement Certificate of BRGBO Biosphere Reserve
The Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, proceeded this morning, with the unveiling of the announcement certificate and commemorative plaque of the new and extended “Black River Gorges – Bel Ombre (BRGBO) Biosphere Reserve” under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme. The event was held at Alexandra Falls Viewpoint, in the Black River Gorges National Park. The new BRGBO Biosphere Reserve covers 8,582 ha and is characterised by a high level of endemism.
The Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, the Minister of Land Transport and Light Rail, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Alan Ganoo, the Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Mr Kavydass Ramano, the Attorney General, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Maneesh Gobin, and other personalities were present at the unveiling ceremony. A pamphlet and poster were also launched on that occasion following which the Prime Minister placed into ground an endemic plant.
The new BRGBO Biosphere Reserve has also been identified by Birdlife International as an important bird area as well as a key biodiversity area owing to the high density of endemic species per square kilometre. The Black River Gorges National Park has been designated as the Core Zone, some 422 ha of State and 75 ha of privately-owned land as Buffer Zone together with 1511 ha for the transition which principally includes the village of Bel Ombre/ St Martin.
In a statement, the Prime Minister remarked that the UNESCO’s MAB programme is one such programme which connects humans to nature and above all protects biodiversity in a country.
Speaking about the BRGBO obtaining the Biosphere Reserve recognition, Mr Jugnauth congratulated officers of the National Parks and Conservation Service for their work, alongside international consultants, in this feat. He expressed satisfaction that the UNESCO has given the recognition to the nature reserve which demonstrates Government’s determination in continuing to protect the natural spaces of Mauritius and its endemic species including birds. For him, this bears testimony to the fact that despite Mauritius undergoing development phases, the authorities are firm to protect the flora and fauna of the country.
In addition, the Prime Minister expressed gratitude to the private sector and, in particular, to AGRIA Ltd for its contribution in the preparation of the dossier of Mauritius. As it is, AGRIA Ltd has agreed to designate 75.15 ha of its land as Buffer Zone. Mr Jugnauth also expressed satisfaction that St Martin thus becomes the first village to form part of the Biosphere Reserve and is hopeful that this becomes an attraction for tourists and a renowned landmark across the world.
Moreover, the Prime Minister indicated that Government has declared the Mauritian Kestrel as its national bird, the latter which was saved from extinction. On that note, he commended the extraordinary work accomplished by the Mauritius Wildlife and the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security and pointed out that now the country boasts of 350 Mauritian Kestrel species.
As regards the forthcoming New Year, the Prime Minister highlighted that the country has gone through an extremely difficult year especially with the pandemic and it is expected that Mauritius will continue to feel the effects of the pandemic in 2022.
Government, he emphasised, has introduced several measures to contain the pandemic and not only Mauritius, but the world has been greatly affected. He cited Europe which is presently recording an increase in COVID-19 positive cases mainly during this festive season.
The Prime Minister therefore appealed to Mauritians to strictly abide to all sanitary precautions, particularly during the time of Christmas and New Year celebrations, and to get inoculated as well as take the booster dose as it is scientifically proven that the booster dose gives an additional protection against the virus. He expressed the wish for a better year come 2022, not only with regards to the health situation, but also on the economic front. There remains a number of uncertainties and, if all precautions are adhered to, we will progress, he reassured.
Black River Gorges – Bel Ombre Biosphere Reserve
The Black River Gorges Bel Ombre Biosphere Reserve contributes significantly to the Global SDGs Targets and the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Targets.
The Biosphere Reserves contributes to one of the most important targets by increasing the Protected Area for Mauritius by 0.3 % (From: 4.725 % to 5.025 %) and contributes to achieving international commitments that Mauritius has adhered to such as the Convention of Biological Diversity and SDGs.
It is recalled that the UNESCO International Co-ordinating Council of the MAB Programme in its session carried out online on 27 and 28 September 2020 recommended and approved the application for the extension and renaming of the Macchabée – Bel Ombre Biosphere Reserve to the new and extended Back River Gorges Bel Ombre Biosphere Reserve.
The announcement was officially made online by the UNESCO MAB International Coordinating Council on Wednesday 28thOctober 2020. The involvement of the local communities in coral reef plantation, beach and lagoon clean up, environmental education activities, and long-term research projects to conserve the threatened flora and fauna, was in addition commended.
The BRGBO Biosphere Reserve forms part as a fully compliant member of the World Network of Biosphere Reserve.The World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently counts 714 sites in 129 countries all over the world. The World Biosphere Reserve now spans over 5% of the world's surface covering all ecosystems, both in urban and rural settings,
The National Parks and Conservation Service of the Ministry Agro-Industry and Food Security spearheaded the process for the preparation and submission of the Nomination Dossier. It involved wide consultations and participations of the private sector mainly hotel and Sugar Estate, NGOs, public institutions, the Savanne District Council and the Bel Ombre St Martin village amongst the main stakeholders.
The present Biosphere Reserve is called to further expand to give way to more areas including the lagoon and reefs. The Vision of the Government is to have 25 % of Mauritius as Biosphere Reserve. These would provide more visibility of Mauritius worldwide and also responds to the need for sustainable development. The tourism industry would in turn benefit fully and also the Biosphere Reserve would attempt to increase the livelihood of local communities and contribute to poverty alleviation.
Moreover, the Biosphere Reserve supports healthy ecosystems and sustainable lifestyles and offers protection against unsuitable development, specifically in the core and buffer zones. It further creates international visibility for the area.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of Mauritius.