UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Lubombo: A new Space for Dialogue and Nature conservation
With funding from the German Commission for UNESCO, Eswatini’s National Commission for UNESCO is creating an extension to the administrative office of the Lubombo Biosphere Reserve. The new building will serve to sensitise the local population to hygiene measures and nature conservation activities and to ensure that community members continue to use natural resources sustainably.
The aim of #SOSAfricanHeritage is to contribute to preserving independent and sustainable organisational structures at African World Heritage sites and Biosphere Reserves with the participation of civil society as well as to secure spaces dedicated to education for cosmopolitanism and sustainability as well as cultural diversity.
Lubombo is the first Biosphere Reserve in the Kingdom of Eswatini. The country is a landlocked state bordered by South Africa to the north, west and south and Mozambique to the east. The Lubombo region is the largest of the four administrative regions of Eswatini, roughly covering 35 percent of the country's territory. The region has the second smallest population in the country. It has a high level of biodiversity, including a number of important populations of globally threatened species such as the black rhino. Economic activities in the region are mainly focused on the cultivation and processing of sugar cane, with all the country's sugar factories located in the lowveld part of Lubombo, which is the main contributor to the country's GDP.
Restrictions due to the Pandemic
The pandemic has exacerbated the already high unemployment rate in Lubombo. The rural communities in the Lubombo region are therefore in despair as hunger and crime are on the rise. The impact on the adjacent nature reserves is an increase of marijuana cultivation, indiscriminate deforestation of sensitive riverine vegetation, and poaching of endangered species such as the protected red duiker.
Remedy through Dialogue, Fencing, and Information
The aim of the project funded by the German Commission for UNESCO is to create a space both for the protection of the Biosphere Reserve and for the participation of the local community. This will be achieved through an extension to the reserve's administrative office. In order to raise the locals awareness for the need of hygiene measures and nature conservation, information events are also to be held in these rooms. This will ensure that community members continue to use natural resources in a sustainable way while being protected from the new virus.
Fences are to be erected to better protect the Biosphere Reserve from poaching and increasing marijuana cultivation, and to clearly demarcate grazing areas. This will also create jobs for the local population.
On the initiative of the Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut, an International Relief Fund was set up in summer 2020 to provide rapid support to cultural and educational organisations abroad during the Covid-19 pandemic. The German Commission for UNESCO is part of the consortium of the fund with its special support programme #SOSAfricanHeritage.
The project to be funded
- Site: Lubombo
- Country: Eswatini
- Type of Site: UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
- Year of inscription: 2019