The Prime Minister, Mr. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, proceeded this morning to the unveiling of the announcement certificate and the commemorative plaque of the new and enlarged “Black River Gorges Biosphere Reserve – Bel Ombre (BRGBO)” in the part of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Program. The event took place at the Alexandra Falls viewpoint in the Black River Gorges National Park. The new BRGBO biosphere reserve covers 8,582 ha and is characterized by a high level of endemism.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Education, Higher Education, Science and Technology, Ms. Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, Minister of Land Transport and Tram, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr. Alan Ganoo, Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Mr. Kavydass Ramano, Attorney General, Minister of Agribusiness and Security Food, Mr. Maneesh Gobin, and other VIPs were present at the unveiling ceremony. A brochure and a poster were also launched on this occasion following which the Prime Minister planted an endemic plant.
The new BRGBO Biosphere Reserve has also been identified by Birdlife International as an important area for birds as well as a key area for biodiversity due to the high density of endemic species per square kilometer. The Black River Gorges National Park has been designated as the core area, some 422 ha of state and 75 ha of private land as a buffer zone as well as 1,511 ha for the transition which mainly includes the village of Bel Ombre / St Martin.
In a statement, the Prime Minister pointed out that UNESCO’s MAB program is one of those programs that connects man to nature and above all protects biodiversity in a country.
Speaking of the achievement by the BRGBO of the recognition of biosphere reserve, Mr. Jugnauth congratulated the agents of the National Parks and Conservation Service for their work, alongside international consultants, in this feat. He expressed his satisfaction that UNESCO granted recognition to the nature reserve which demonstrates the determination of the government to continue to protect the natural spaces of Mauritius and its endemic species including birds. For him, this testifies to the fact that despite the development phases of Mauritius, the authorities are firm to protect the fauna and flora of the country.
In addition, the Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to the private sector and, in particular, to AGRIA Ltd for its contribution to the preparation of the Mauritius dossier. As it stands, AGRIA Ltd has agreed to designate 75.15 ha of its land as a buffer zone. Mr. Jugnauth also expressed his satisfaction that St Martin thus becomes the first village to be part of the Biosphere Reserve and hopes that it will become an attraction for tourists and a renowned landmark across the world.
In addition, the Prime Minister indicated that the government declared the Mauritius Kestrel as its national bird, the latter which has been saved from extinction. On this note, he praised the extraordinary work done by Mauritius Wildlife and the Ministry of Agro-industry and Food Security and stressed that the country now has 350 species of Mauritian kestrels.
Regarding the next New Year, the Prime Minister stressed that the country has gone through an extremely difficult year especially with the pandemic and it is expected that Mauritius will continue to feel the effects of the pandemic in 2022.
The government, he said, has introduced several measures to contain the pandemic and not only Mauritius, but the world has been severely affected. He cited Europe which is currently seeing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases mainly during this holiday season.
The Prime Minister therefore called on Mauritians to scrupulously respect all health precautions, especially on the occasion of Christmas and New Year, and to be vaccinated as well as to take the booster dose because it is scientifically proven that the booster dose provides additional protection. against the virus. He expressed the wish for a better year by 2022, not only in terms of health, but also in terms of economics. There remain a certain number of uncertainties and, if all the precautions are respected, we will progress, he reassured.
Black River Gorges – Bel Ombre Biosphere Reserve
The Bel Ombre Black River Gorges Biosphere Reserve contributes significantly to the global SDG targets and the Aichi targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Biosphere reserves contribute to one of the most important objectives by increasing the protected area of Mauritius by 0.3% (from: 4.725% to 5.025%) and contribute to the fulfillment of international commitments to which Mauritius has adhered, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the SDGs. .
It is recalled that the International Coordinating Council of the UNESCO MAB Program, in its session held online on September 27 and 28, 2020, recommended and approved the request for extension and renaming of the Maccabee Biosphere Reserve – Bel Ombre en the new and Bel Ombre Return River Gorges Biosphere Reserve.
The announcement was officially made online by UNESCO’s MAB International Coordinating Council on Wednesday, October 28, 2020. The involvement of local communities in the planting of coral reefs, beach and lagoon clean-up, activities environmental education and long-term research projects to conserve endangered flora and fauna, was further praised.
The BRGBO Biosphere Reserve is part as a fully compliant member of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently has 714 sites in 129 countries around the world. The World Biosphere Reserve now covers more than 5% of the world’s surface covering all ecosystems, both in urban and rural areas,
The Department of National Parks and Conservation of the Ministry of Agribusiness and Food Security led the process of preparing and submitting the nomination dossier. It involved wide consultations and participation of the private sector, mainly the hotel and sugar industry, NGOs, public institutions, the District Council of Savanne and the village of Bel Ombre St Martin among the main stakeholders.
The current biosphere reserve is set to expand further to make way for more areas, including the lagoon and reefs. The government’s vision is to have 25% of Mauritius as a biosphere reserve. These would give Mauritius more visibility in the world and would also respond to the need for sustainable development. The tourism industry would in turn benefit fully and the biosphere reserve would also attempt to increase the livelihoods of local communities and contribute to poverty reduction.
In addition, the biosphere reserve supports healthy ecosystems and sustainable lifestyles and offers protection against inappropriate development, especially in the core and buffer zones. It also creates international visibility for the region.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Republic of Mauritius.