In June 2015 UNESCO declared the greater Magaliesberg region, including the Cradle of Humankind, a globally recognised biosphere reserve. The declaration is described in a new booklet about the area as ‘a proud accomplishment for South Africa and a fine moment for the world’. The designation as a Biopshere Reserve was celebrated with the ceremonial unveiling of a granite plaque on the summit of the Magaliesberg on 28 October.
After nearly a decade of lobbying and sustained efforts by a small committee of dedicated environmentalists, the Magaliesberg has been declared a World Biosphere Reserve.
The announcement was made today (9 June) in Paris by the International Coordinating Council of the Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB). This is a Unesco programme that aims to build a supportive and sustainable relationship between people and their environments. In effect, this means a specific focus on safeguarding natural ecosystems through innovative approaches to economic development.
The World Network of Biosphere Reserves, which Magaliesberg now joins, counts 631 biosphere reserves in 119 countries.
“We are delighted with this final acknowledgement of the unique nature of the Magaliesberg and the powerful contribution it is making to our country, to the ecosystem services in Gauteng and the North West and the communities it nurtures over an extensive area,” said Paul Fatti, chair of the Magaliesberg Biosphere Initiative Group (MBIG) that has been lobbying authorities since 2007 to support the establishment of the Biosphere.
Vincent Carruthers, past chair of MBIG and renowned author of “The Magaliesberg”, the most authoritative study of the mountain range, said that this announcement was the culmination of a campaign that began in 2006.
“I’m most grateful there is now international recognition of this great mountain range that has witnessed the whole span of life, from its very origins,” he said. “The Magaliesberg is almost 100 times older than Mount Everest and half the age of the earth, a unique treasure for us in this part of Africa.”
Vincent Carruthers has been the Chairman of the Magalisberg Biosphere Initiative Group (MBIG) since 2009 and has fervently advocated for the Magaliesberg Biosphere since 2006.
In July this year Vincent decided to resign the Chairmanship of MBIG to allow more time for his own interests and work in the Biosphere. One of these tasks is to re-visit and update his popular book "The Magaliesberg".
Vincent will continue as Chairman of the Magaliesberg Biosphere (Not for Profit Company).
Paul Fatti was nominated for the role of chairman and the MBIG committee unanimously supported this nomination. Paul previously chaired MBIG, and is still the Chairman of Magaliesberg Protection Association.