Govt nominates biosphere reserves

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Lijeng Ranooe

LESOTHO has proposed the adoption of Tsehlanyane and Bokong Nature Reserves in the Leribe district as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) biosphere reserves.

This was revealed by the Deputy Principal Secretary (DPS) of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture, Moliehi Ntene, at a recent regional UNSECO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) l workshop in Maseru.

A biosphere reserve is an area of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems which promotes solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.

The UNSECO Man and the Biosphere MAB programme in the Southern African region constitutes an instrument for implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development (SDGs).

If adopted as biospheres, the two nature reserves will benefit from support to conserve biodiversity, restore and enhance ecosystem services and foster the sustainable use of natural resources.

It will also help support efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change and other aspects of global environmental change.

UNSECO has so far designated 669 Biosphere Reserves in 120 countries. The integrated concept aims at balancing nature conservation with sustainable development of people’s livelihoods by promoting and linking conservation with social and economic activities as well as research and education.

Speaking on behalf of the Principal Secretary (PS) of Ministry of Tourism, Ms Ntene, said, “The proposed Biosphere Reserve is an area in Lesotho’s northern highlands, the Maluti Mountains, surrounding the Tsehlanyane and Bokong Nature Reserves”.

“It is our desire that the nomination process be completed by March 2019.

“We take this meeting as another way to sensitise the Lesotho local stakeholders to understand the benefits of engaging in a biosphere in achieving sustainable use and management of biodiversity but also in implementing the SDGs,” Ms Ntene said.

“The MAB programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) include both a comprehensive vision of sustainable development and a powerful implementation tool endorsed in the reality on the ground – the community level”.

“The development of the MAB strategy is an endeavour by the member states to the SDGs particularly through exploring policies, technologies and innovations for the sustainable management of biodiversity and natural resources and mitigation and adaption to the climate change challenge of our time.”

For her part, the Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO Programme Director for Science, Bontle Ntsoaole, said the preservation of the environmental nature reserves was very important as it would contribute to enhancing the livelihood of the inhabitants of those areas.

She further said that Lesotho did not have any UNESCO biosphere reserves and the nomination of Tsehlanyane and Bokong will contribute to the sustainable development of people’s livelihoods by promoting and linking conservation with social and economic activities as well as research and education.

“It will also attract more tourism into the country,” Ms Ntsoaole said.

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