The three core functions of Biosphere Reserves should be included through an appropriate zonation that recognises:

(a) “a legally constituted core area devoted to long term protection, according to the conservation objectives of the Biosphere Reserve, and of sufficient size to meet these objectives;

(b) a buffer zone or zones clearly identified and surrounding or contiguous to the core areas, where only activities compatible with the conservation objectives can take place;

(c) an outer transition area where sustainable resource management practices are promoted and developed”.


Suggested general requirements for zonation in the South African context include:

  • Zones should be ecologically viable units. This will have implications on the size and inclusion of critical ecosystems and resources.
  • The boundaries of zones should, where possible, coincide with natural ecological boundaries rather than cadastral boundaries.
  • The zonation should be reconcilable with provincial planning legislation.
  • Development proposals should be evaluated in order to establish whether they attract the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
  • Sustainable use of natural resources should be promoted without negatively impacting on sensitive habitats, species and ecological processes.
  • Biosphere Reserve principles should be integrated into regional planning.
  • Aesthetic implications of possible developments should be carefully considered.

 Core Zone

  • Minimally modified ecosystems characteristic of the region.
  • Representative of the range of ecological and biological diversity.
  • Viable ecosystems, natural processes and species populations. The Core zone must be sufficiently large to meet these objectives.
  • The Core Zone does not need to be a formally protected area, but requires some secure long-term legal protection for conserving biological diversity.

The Core Zone of the Magaliesberg Biosphere consists of the Magaliesberg Protected Natural Environment (MPNE) which is covered by the legal ordinance … As a result, minimal development has occurred within the MPNE and the area retains a pristine character. This area is predominantly under private ownership, but the above legal protection places restrictions on development and land uses for the area.

The MPNE consists of a long narrow strip that covers the MagaliesbergMountain range. The MPNE covers an area of approximately 37,000 hectares, with a total length of 180 km and ranges from 0.5 to 6.5 km in width. The MagaliesbergMountain range is a prominent feature of the landscape and straddles the interface between the Grassland Biome on the south and the Bushveld Biome on the north. As a result, the area as a whole is renowned for its biological diversity.


Buffer Zone

  • Predominantly natural or near-natural areas, or amenable to restoration to such a condition.
  • Areas where sustainable use of natural resources is practised.
  • Clearly defined boundary and formal legal/administrative status.

The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and legally recognised conservancies that surround the MPNE will constitute the buffer zone for the Magaliesberg Biosphere. These have clearly defined boundaries and are well dispersed around the Core Zone. They consist of the following areas:


Approximate size (ha)

Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site


Peglerae Conservancy


Rhenosterspruit Conservancy


BuffelspoortValley Conservancy


Hartebeestfontein Conservancy


VultureValley Conservancy


Francolin Conservancy


Lonmin Conservancy



Transition Zone

It has also been commented that the transition zone is the place for applying various models of sustainable development where local communities, conservation agencies, scientists, civil associations, cultural groups, private enterprises and other stakeholders work together to manage and develop the resources of the region.

The transition zone is by definition not delimited in space, but rather is changing in size according to the problems that arise over time, while the natural appearance of the landscape is shaped predominantly by sustainable uses.

  • Serves particularly the development role, provided that development is sustainable.
  • Surrounds the core and the buffer.
  • Not necessarily strictly delineated but should preferably correspond to bioregions, e.g., watersheds or drainage basins.
  • Forms a dynamic “zone of co-operation”.
  • Uses managed cooperatively in harmony with the objectives of the Biosphere Reserve.
  • Manipulative management.
  • Appropriate physical planning.
  • Can include transformed or intensively modified areas.


The boundaries of the Transition Zone of the Magaliesberg Biosphere are not defined, but cover extensive areas to the north and south of the Core Zone, and interspersed by numerous areas of the Buffer Zone. The Transition Zone covers an area in excess of 120,000 hectares.

 Magaliesberg Biosphere

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