The South African government has welcomed the declaration of the scenic Garden Route in its Western Cape province as a Unesco biosphere reserve.
Unesco members voted in favour of the inclusion of the Garden Route as a biosphere reserve at a meeting in Paris today.
"The positive response to the application to declare the Garden Route a biosphere reserve is most encouraging, not just for us, as a country, but also for the people of the region," said Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molema.
Somewhat ironically, the announcement came as rehabilitation and relief efforts continue in one of the municipalities that make up the Garden Route region after a devastating weeklong fire that destroyed large swathes of the town of Knysna, leaving hundreds of people homeless.
Officials said the Unesco declaration would go a long way towards assisting in revitalising the region as a major tourist attraction.
Current government-sponsored projects in the area include Working for Water, Working for Wetlands, and Working on Fire, all of which are involved in alien vegetation eradication and fire management.
The vegetation cleared is made available to small businesses or entrepreneurs for making furniture, crafting, making charcoal, or sold as firewood to create economic opportunities as well.
An official launch of the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve will take place later this year.
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