The Aim of the Development Function
Within the context of a Biosphere Reserve, “development” is defined as: “the fostering of economic and human development which is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable". This is a fundamental objective of any Biosphere Reserve and particularly relevant in the case of the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve.
The VBR has, on the one hand, a relatively large area that is environmentally sensitive of which the bio-diverse Soutpansberg and Blouberg mountain ranges comprises the major portion, while correspondingly it also has a relatively large human population that has a rich cultural heritage but is predominantly very poor and whom up to now have been presented with few economic opportunities.
The challenge is to establish a development framework and strategy that is aimed at conserving the bio-diverse environment while at the same time creating socio-economic opportunities for the people of the area.
Objectives of the Development Committee work
- It must integrate the current wild life and tourism industry with the cultural assets of the people in order to jointly promote the sustainable utilization of the area for the benefit of all its inhabitants.
- It must empower local communities to take responsibility for the development and conservation functions of the areas in which they live in a manner that contributes towards their economic upliftment.
- It must help to create partnerships between the private sector, community structures and Government in order to share knowledge and co-operate in solving natural resource problems.
- It can meaningfully contribute to the restitution process by acting as an innovative tool for the resolution of land use conflicts, which implies negotiation and consent by legitimate stakeholders, including the local communities.