FOR THE PEOPLE
The VBR is the largest biosphere reserve in South Africa, with a surface area of 30 700 km, and a population of approximately 1.5 million people of which ~97% are rural residents. Of that 97% many live within 20km of protected areas and sacred lands such Mapungubwe, the Kruger, Soutpansberg, Blouberg and Thate Vondo.
Collaboration across the VBR is the only way to conserve the region’s uniquely bio-diverse environment, while simultaneously supporting and promoting much needed sustainable development. The VBR contains a complex interplay of cultural groups representing a rich, but diverse, living cultural heritage. All these groups exist within a socio-political post-apartheid-regime in an area of the country with extraordinary biodiversity and several sensitive eco-systems.
The unique biodiversity of our national parks, provincial nature reserves, wetlands and sacred lands, embodies not only the variety of life, but also the importance of that variety, of the crisis presented by its loss and of the need for conservation action. Conservation of biodiversity requires deep understanding and knowledge of the variety of species and ecosystems (vegetation types), their distribution, abundance, sensitivity and conservation status.
This understanding and knowledge aids in the stewardship of biodiversity conservation which is dependent on collaborative management involving all sectors of society. Although well managed formal conservation areas are crucial for the conservation of biodiversity, informal conservation on private and communal land is as vital in achieving the objective of balance between Man and Biosphere. This is the role a biosphere plays in listening, facilitating, assisting and partnering with all levels of society; governmental, traditional and institutional.