Part of the proposed Magaliesberg Biosphere has been declared a National Priority Area in terms of the Air Quality Act, highlighting the scourge of air pollution that threatens some of the most critical areas of the Magaliesberg.
The notice, indicating that special management interventions were required to rectify the deteriorating air quality in three municipalities in North West that include parts of the proposed Magaliesberg Biosphere and the Waterberg Biosphere, was gazetted on 15 June. The three areas affected in North West cover the municipalities of Rustenburg, Moses Kotane and Madibeng.
In the notice, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, stated that air pollution in these municipalities is a serious problem. Emissions from identified sources are possibly having “a significant negative impact on air quality” which could be damaging the health of the population, she added. Specific air quality management actions will be required to prevent further deterioration of air quality and to rectify the situation, she said.
“We have been deeply concerned about the growing air pollution from mines and industries along the northern side of the Magaliesberg and have collaborated with mining houses for several years,” said Vincent Carruthers, chairman of the Magaliesberg Biosphere Initiative Group that has spearheaded the drive to have a Biosphere declared to better manage the protection and use of the unique range and its environs. “We are most encouraged by the Minister’s move to tackle this serious problem.”
The Minister also pointed to a further motivation for her action - the need to act now to avoid any cross-border problems with Botswana over emissions that may impact on that country’s air quality. Taking action to rectify the air quality problems in the North West and Waterberg will also provide a clear regulatory environment for the future development that will take place in the area, she added.
The application to UNESCO to have the Magaliesberg Protected Area and a buffer zone around it listed by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve is to be signed and submitted by Minister Molewa before the end of the year.