The VBR collaborates with many national and international conservation programmes within the biosphere, such as the World Heritage Site, Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA), Ramsar Sites and Stewardship Programmes. As a result, the VBR contributes directly to the following international agreements and conventions:
• Convention on Biological Diversity;
• World Heritage Convention; and,
• African Network of Biosphere Reserves and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
All biosphere reserves in South Africa are recognised under the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for 2015 to 2025, as one of the programmes which assist in the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Strategic Plan for 2011 to 2020. The VBR contributes to the implementation of this Strategic Plan, particularly the AICHI Biodiversity Targets. Examples are provided below:
a) World Heritage Convention: Mapungubwe National Park (MNP; South African National Parks; SANParks) is a World Heritage Site situated in one of the Core zones of the VBR, whilst the Buffer zone of MNP forms part of the Buffer zone of the VBR. The VBR participates in the World Heritage Site Management through conservation management committees. The integrated management of the zones is critical as it affects both the World Heritage Site and the VBR.
b) Linkages with other Biosphere Reserves: The VBR adheres to the UNESCO regulations for biosphere reserves and has several projects which cater for the development, conservation and logistic functions of the biosphere reserve. The VBR interacts with the Kruger to Canyon Biosphere Reserve (K2CBR) and Waterberg Biosphere Reserve (WBR) through attending the Limpopo Biosphere Reserves Forum; interaction with national biosphere reserves is achieved through the national committee. The VBR is physically connected with the K2CBR through the Greater Mapungubwe (GMTFCA) and the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) corridors; VBR and K2CBR Buffer zones are both within Kruger National Park, and engagement regarding this Buffer zone is undertaken with SANParks.
c) The World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) and the African Network of Biosphere Reserves (AfriMAB): LEDET organises regular forums for the three Limpopo biospheres with annual forums organised by MAB for all of South Africa’s biospheres to meet. The VBR regularly participates in AfriMAB meetings and workshops and implements its recommendations where relevant. The vice-chairperson of the VBR was part of the workshop that prepared the Management Manual for UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Africa in 2015.
d) Transfrontier Conservation Area: The VBR falls within the Greater Mapungubwe and Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Areas which is tri-lateral initiative involving South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Termed as ‘Smart Biosphere Reserves’, the VBR serves as a learning platform for other biosphere reserves through the exchange of knowledge and information. In July 2013, the VBR and WBR hosted the AfriMAB capacity building workshop, with representatives from UNESCO and other African biosphere reserves.