It’s been three years in the making but the Cape West Coast Biosphere Trails are now one of the newest trail products on offer in the Western Cape. Funding secured from the Development Bank of SA (DBSA) some three years ago enabled a team of consultants to prepare a trails feasibility plan and more recently the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) came to the party by providing funding for the implementation of the five trails. Says, Janette du Toit, CEO of the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve, “The trails are an exciting way to grow the local economy by supporting existing and emerging tourism and hospitality services in the region and sustaining the livelihoods of newly employed guides, caterers and drivers.
The trails all make use of existing facilities and services in the region with an estimated R21 million in direct local spend over 5 years. The development of additional businesses that can support and benefit the trails, such as catering and shuttle services are being encouraged. The direct local spend in the West Coast over the past five months has been more than R120 000 (spent on guesthouses, catering, shuttles, etc). Additionally 3 new jobs have been created for local guides, with R110 000 paid out in wages.
In the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve farms and fishing villages, lagoons, rivers, the sea, pristine flora and unique bird life, combine to offer residents and visitors a diversity of natural, cultural, historical, recreational and spiritual experiences. These are sustained by the Biosphere Reserve’s on-going commitment to bio-diversity conservation and development opportunities that meet the material and aspirational needs of residents whilst contributing to the conservation of landscapes and eco-systems.
The Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve is one 598 biospheres globally, 74 of them in Africa and 6 in South Africa. It lies on South Africa’s West Coast between the Diep River (Milnerton) in the south, the Berg River (Velddrif) in the north, the N7 (Malmesbury, Moorreesburg) in the east and the Atlantic Ocean in the west. The West Coast National Park lies at the core of the Biosphere Reserve, with wonderful attractions such as the West Coast Fossil Park and characterful communities as in Darling, found in the buffer zones.
The Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve Section 21 Company (Non-profit organization) with support from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and the Development Bank of South Africa, is developing the trails. Proceeds go towards improving and managing the trail path environment, sustaining the livelihoods of the guides, caterers and drivers, and growing the local economy by supporting existing and emerging tourism and hospitality services in the region.