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The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere has developed an international partnership with the Rhon Biosphere in Germany.


Just as the K2C Biosphere is situated over 2 provinces, so is the Rhon situated over 3 provinces - ie Bavaria, Hesse and Thuringia.   In additional to this, there are a number of other similarities between the 2 Biosphere’s that includes a marginalized location in the country, land under claim due to past political experiences (GDR / Apartheid Regime) and seeking new opportunities for disadvantaged groups like women in rural areas.


The objectives of the partnership are the exchange on technical issues, on methodological aspects and management approaches as well as about capacity building. The project works together closely with the people living within the biosphere reserves (BR); attempting to reduce any adverse human impact on nature while creating new sources of income for local communities from the use of biodiversity in a sustainable way.


Overall the biosphere partnership aims at alleviating poverty through biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, capacity building and innovative sustainable and environmentally friendly business ideas, also within the stakeholder group of economically marginalized black rural population.


The partnership was facilitated through two learning exchange visits (one to each Biosphere) including preparatory, analysis and evaluation workshops. This initial phase intended to set a base for more detailed peer -to- peer learning and future collaboration in different sectors.


The first peer-to-peer visit took place in June 2007, when a delegation from the K2C Biosphere visited the Rhon Biosphere for one week in order to get an understanding of management structures and activities of an already longer established reserve. The visit was an eye-opener for the participants from South Africa representing all stakeholder groups and EXCO members. The exchange-visit inspired them with strategies and approaches for their own reserve back home.


Based on this first experience the return visit of selected experts from the Rhon Biosphere Reserve was scheduled for March 2008.


To formalise the partnership thereafter, an MOU was drawn up and was formally signed by representatives of both biosphere’s at a UNESCO hosted side event during the International Convention of Biodiversity in Bonn in June 2007.

   

 Following the visits and the formal signing of the MOU, a number of pilot projects have been identified to be implemented within the K2C Region and include:


In addition to the projects above, a partnership and student relationship and exchange programme has been established between the Southern Cross School in the K2C and the Martin Pollich Gymnasium in the Rhon.  This partnership has been inititaed through the sending of email and gift exchanges between the two schools as well as presentations on each school conducted to the other and will officially be initiated through an exchange programme in 2010.


The K2C-Rhon partnership was initiated, funded and facilitated by Gtz-MRDP (Mpumlanga Rural Development Programme) who have further continued support through funding of feasibility studies and initiatory processes of the pilot projects resulting form the partnership.



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