German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Project Profile Southern Africa

Implementation of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve concept in Southern Africa
Instrument for conservation, sustainable development and regional integration


Based on the regional division of AfriMAB, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe are part of the sub-region of Southern Africa. So far, only Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe established biosphere reserves got reached. To pass the challenge to implement biosphere reserves even in Southern Africa, this region has been prioritized on the AfriMAB Bureau Meeting in 2011 that BfN supported. In order to present the concept’s potential and to select suitable sites, capacity building workshops, screenings and feasebility studies are carried out.

Workshop: Biosphere Reserves - Local Solutions to Global and Local Challenges

Based on the two below mentioned events, the workshop "Biosphere Reserves: Local Solutions to Global and Local Challenges" took place from 1st to 4th February 2016 in Gaborone, Botswana. With about 60 participants from eight countries in southern Africa, a large group of representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations could be reached. The workshop focused on how biosphere reserves contribute to solve local environmental and development problems, and how challenges, emerging in the context of global change, can be tackled. Within the framework of case studies as well as interactive sessions, the potential of biosphere reserves could be assessed with regard to (transdisciplinary) research and education activities and the establishment of urban biosphere reserves. The workshop has also contributed to develop proposals and recommendations for future joint action of the southern African countries. 

Workshop documentation

Workshop: Biosphere Reserves as Tools for Landscape Governance and Livelihoods

From 1st to 5th December 2014 the workshop "Biosphere Reserves as Tools for Landscape Governance and Livelihoods" took place in Windhoek, Namibia. More than 40 participants from several governmental and nongovernmental organisations from African and European countries shared their experiences on the topic of UNESCO biosphere reserves and discusses how these model regions can contribute to sustainable development also in southern Africa. Especially knowledge was imparted on how characteristic landscapes can be preserved through the establishment of biosphere reserves and according governance structures. Thus the workshop, arranged by BfN, UNESCO, IUCN an the Namibian Ministry for the Environment, was characterised by the increasing interest in biosphere reserves in southern Africa.

Workshop documentation

Workshop: UNESCO Biosphere Reserves - Added Value for Sustainable Development and Conservation

As part of this project, the international workshop "UNESCO Biosphere Reserves - Added Value for Sustainable Development and Conservation" was held from 12 to 14 November 2013 in Gaborone, Botswana. Representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations from Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Germany participated. The workshop aimed to highlight the added value that can be achieved through the establishment of a biosphere reserve with regard to an environmentally sensitive and sustainable development. Based on case studies, among others, the following potential of biosphere reserves could be illustrated: the alleviation of poverty through income-generating activities, conflict management, regional and bilateral integration and a "Community-based Natural Resource Management" model. Opportunities for applying education for sustainable development and research in bioshere reserves were also presented. 

Workshop documentation

Workshop participants (Photo: Dorothea Theunissen)

Project information

Duration: since 2013

Programme: Research and development projects (UFOPLAN)

Countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia

Project partner: UNESCO Office in Harare; AfriMAB; IUCN Pretoria Office; Terra-Sana Environmental Consulting; KAZA Secretariat; KFW

Project management at BfN

Section I 2.3 International Nature Conservation
Contact: Dr. Bettina Hedden-Dunkhorst

Last Change: 24/03/2020