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On Wednesday the 24th of February 2021 at the University of Venda Council Chambers the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve solidified its relationship with the University through the signing of the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU). Important to note is that this the signed MoUs is one of those that would not gather dust because it is a journey that will be of great benefit to the VBR, UNIVEN, local, national, and international communities.

The MOU was signed by the VBR’s Board Chairperson, Dr Lutendo Mugwedi representing VBR and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, Prof. Jan Crafford on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni. The signing ceremony was attended by representatives from Thulamela Municipality, Thohoyandou Botanical Garden and members of Senior Management as well as some UNIVEN staff members. The VBR chair Dr Mugwedi highlighted some of the expected outcomes of this partnership that are but not limited to cutting edge conservation and sustainable development solutions, knowledge, and socioeconomic benefits. He further indicated that working together in this relationship will enhance the lives of our people. The Vhembe Biosphere Reserve (VBR) is the sixth South African Biosphere Reserve and the third in Limpopo Province.

The VBR aims to conserve the area’s uniquely bio-diverse environment, while simultaneously supporting and promoting much needed sustainable development. On behalf of UNIVEN, Prof Jan Crafford shared with the delegates a long journey travelled as far back from 1990s. He told the delegates that VBR was proclaimed a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2009. The NRF Research Chair in Biodiversity Value and Change was awarded to the University in 2013. The status of Biosphere is all about stakeholder engagement and he is sincerely hopeful that the status of the Vhembe Biosphere will be extended for another ten years. Prof Crafford said UNIVEN must be an anchor institution not only in Vhembe region but nation-wide.

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