Rustenburg Rotary Club named Paul Fatti a Paul Harris Fellow at a function earlier this month for his services to the Magaliesberg.
The recognition comes “in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world.”
Paul says “I have been involved in the conservation of the Magaliesberg since the seventies, arising out of concern that has developed together with my climbing activity in the mountain range since the early ‘sixties.
"I chaired a working group of the Mountain Club of South Africa that in 1974 put together the first report on the need to conserve the Magaliesberg.
“The Magaliesberg Protection Association was founded a year later at a public meeting held at the Safari hotel in Rustenburg, with me as Chairman. I have been Chairman ever since….”
The Magaliesberg Protection Association (MPA) campaigned for the Magaliesberg to be declared a “Natural Area” in 1977. The Physical Planning Act of 1975 provided for a “nature area” where land use changes are prohibited, while the land remains in private ownership. The legislation would prevent farm land being converted to townships or holiday resorts.
It took 18 months for the officials to draw up the boundaries and come to grips with the new law. The MPA played a conciliatory role when the Magaliesberg Landowners’ Association demanded a reduction in the size of the nature area.
Under Paul's leadership, the MPA produced a proposal detailing how the area might be managed to everyone’s advantage and rejected the policy of expropriation.
In 1994 the Protected Natural Environment (MPNE) was declared (subsequently MPE).
The campaign to have the Greater Magaliesberg Region declared a Biosphere was initiated by the MPA in late 2006.
The Magaliesberg Environmental Management Framework and Plan (EMF) provides the strategic assessment for planning and conservation, but that study was only done in 2007.
“The EMF was finally gazetted in March 2009, a few days after the Kgaswane Country Lodge’s 24G application for 'rectification' was approved by the NW Province,” says Paul. “The MPA is involved in a court case against the North-West government over its decision to give post-hoc permission to an illegally built hotel inside the Magaliesberg Protected Environment.”
Paul concluded his presentation at the Rotary Club’s award ceremony on a high note. “We are making progress towards the declaration of the Magaliesberg Biosphere."