The initiative to create a Biosphere reserve in the Magaliesberg region attempted to comply strictly with proper procedures and protocol regarding provincial and national involvement. A biosphere can only be proposed to UNESCO by the national government. The Magaliesberg region falls within two provinces each of which is responsible for the management and protection of the Magaliesberg Protected Environment. It is therefore appropriate to motivate the provinces to take control of the Biosphere project, starting with the NW Province in which 80% of the MPE falls.
Vincent Carruthers and John Wesson, under the auspices of the North West Business Forum, presented the concept of a Magaliesberg Biosphere to the NW Premier. The Premier Mme Edna Molewa, indicated her enthusiasm for the idea and requested that it be taken further.
MPA, Birdlife SA and WESSA to assist
Magaliesberg Protection Association agreed to temporarily provide the necessary structure, secretariat and basic funding for the Biosphere initiative. The MPA became a member of the North West Business Forum to formalise its collaboration with the Forum in developing the Biosphere concept. Birdlife South Africa and WESSAWESSA are also collaborating with the MPA on the Biosphere initiative.
Members of the MPA and others met with Debbie Thompson, Chief Co-ordinator of the Kruger 2 Canyons Biosphere in Mpumalanga/Limpopo. She gave valuable advice on the process required to create a Biosphere.
Public Meeting - and support
MPA and WESSA organised a public meeting in Skeerpoort to initiate the Biosphere process and to recruit volunteers to assist. A number of people came forward, each volunteering to handle particular aspects until a formal steering committee or management committee could be appointed
The informal NGO group met regularly and achieved the following:
• Compiled a database of approximately 700 stakeholder organisations and individuals (national, provincial and municipal departments, civil society structures and communities).
• Drafted an initial concept map of the possible area of the Biosphere for discussion.
• Designed and printed an information brochure (funded by MPA).
• Developed a PowerPoint presentation for use with stakeholder groups.
• Initiated further meetings and discussions with NW DACE and NW Parks Board.
• Collaborated with the Magaliesberg EMF consultants and established the integration of the two initiatives.
• Held discussions with Waterberg Biosphere to gain from their experience, especially with regard to organisation and structure.
• Addressed various stakeholder groups (e.g. the Geological Society of South Africa and local Conservancies) and received resolutions of support.
DACE, Parks Board and Tourism Board
The informal NGO group held a workshop with NW DACE and the North West Parks and Tourism Board. Both of those organisations agreed to make submissions to EXCO to obtain authorisation to take the matter forward.
The NGO group helped NW DACE with their submission document, which appeared to have stalled.
Premier agrees to Launch Project
The informal NGO group met with NW Premier to give feedback. Premier agreed to launch the Biosphere and requested: a) a summary document for her to take to the National Minister of Environment & Tourism b) a preliminary budget for soliciting funding and c) comments and suggestions by Danie Schoeman (NW) regarding organisation structures.
NGO compiles documments
The informal NGO group compiled the documents requested by the Premier and submitted them to her office and to NW DACE.
Members of the informal NGO group attended a meeting with NW provincial officials and representatives of the Finnish Government. The following points were minuted:
• NWParks &Tourism had received authority from their MEC to support for the Biosphere.
• NW DACE were still to make their submission to their MEC.
• Tshepo Moremi (Chief Director, Environmental Services) advised that NW DACE would chair a NW Biosphere Interim Committee (NW BIC).
• The informal NGO group would hold a closing meeting on 6 October and the NW BIC under Tshepo Moremi would lead the process thereafter.
• Freek Vogel (Premier’s Office) proposed that the NW BIC should start by holding a strategic planning workshop
• Paivi Halinen (Director for Nature Conservation at the Central Finland Regional Environment Centre) gave a presentation on Finland’s proposal for Lake Paijanne Biosphere and gave considerable advice on procedures, budgeting etc.
State to run project
The informal NGO group met and agreed that its functions had been concluded and that the provincial government should now run with the project. However, members felt that the group would need to maintain a watching brief to ensure that progress was made and that accomplishments to date were not lost.
Biosphere to be a Line Function
Paul Fatti (Chairman of the informal NGO group) spoke to Tharina Boshoff (NW DACE) about the lack of progress. She advised that the MEC had approved the project and b) the head of DACE wished the Biosphere to be a line function. She would report back after a budget meeting the following day.
Initiative back to MBIG
In view of the continued lack of progress by NW DACE, the informal NGO group met once more to consider possible alternative actions:
The group decided that it would have to re-take the initiative in the following manner:
Organise a broad based stakeholders workshop in September.
• Obtain wide media exposure for the project.
• Keep both provinces fully informed and involved in the workshop plans and invite them to participate in whatever capacity they chose.
Approach to GDACE
Paul Fatti spoke to Tharina Boshoff who advised that Tshepo Moremi was not moving until a budget had been allocated. She would prefer that the stakeholders’ workshop should take place after NWDACE and GDACE have held formal discussions.
Vincent Carruthers spoke to Deshni Pillay (GDACE) and suggested that a presentation be made to GDACE to introduce the project. Deshni agreed to invite appropriate members of the Department to attend the presentation but indicated that the earliest possible date would be in the week 23-27 June. NW Dace are being invited to attend this meeting.
A number of possible venues for the September stakeholders’ meeting are being considered, depending whether or not we get funding for it.
All members of the group are contacting representatives of the media
GDACE and NW working together
Meeting between the Biosphere initiative group (BIG) and GDACE. Deshni Pillay set up this meeting which was attended by a number of interested persons from the Department. Agreement in principle to support the Biosphere initiative. Adriaan van Straaten from NWDACE attended the meeting and agreed to arrange a formal invitation from the Head of NWDACE to the Head of GDACE to join the process. Invited all to attend a joint meeting between NWDACE, GDACE and BIG in Rustenburg in July.
GDACE, NWDACE and MBIG meet
Joint meeting between NWDACE, GDACE and BIG in Rustenburg. Established an interim management committee comprising members of NW Province (3) Gauteng (3) and BIG (4) to take the process forward. The interim management committee will hold its first meeting on 28 August in Rustenburg. Decided to go ahead with the proposed stakeholders’ meeting, but to move it to October. BIG will organise this meeting, but with representation from both provinces at the meeting. The challenge will be to find a suitable venue and sponsorship for the costs of this meeting.
First meeting of the interim management committee (renamed the Steering Committee) in Rustenburg. Both the NW and Gauteng governments are reported to have reacted positively the Biosphere proposal. The process to be followed towards the establishment of a Magaliesberg Biosphere was agreed upon and initial tasks were assigned. On 14 October, 2008, the Steering Committee will hold a workshop to discuss a number of these tasks and the best way forward. It was decided not to go ahead with a stakeholders’ meeting at this stage, but instead BIG will be giving a display on the proposed Biosphere at the Magaliesberg Country Classic Festival at the Bekker School on Heritage day (24 September).
Biosphere goes public
Magaliesberg Country Classic Festival at the Bekker School. Display and information on the proposed Biosphere by members of BIG. List of interested people and their contact details. Hopefully this can be a start of a “Friends of the Biosphere” organisation.
Second meeting of the Steering Committee in Rustenburg. Reviewed the Committee’s plan for the overall Registration Process. Workshopped the process for the way forward under four headings:
• Clarifying the process
• Region (Zones)
• Proposal and Agreement
and agreed on deadlines. Plan is for the final proposal to be submitted to UNESCO by the Minister of Environment Affairs before the end of 2010.
Business Plan and TOR
Meeting of the Biosphere Initiative Group (BIG). Reviewed the progress of the Steering Committee. A task for the BIG is to draft terms of reference for this committee, including a business plan. The Biosphere map will be updated to incorporate the various conservancies along the Magaliesberg into its buffer zone.
Gauteng Urban Task Team Support
The Biosphere concept is presented to a meeting of the Gauteng Urban Task Team and obtains its enthusiastic support.
NW allocates budget
On request of NWDACE, Vincent Carruthers and Paul Fatti draw up a Terms of Reference document for the Invitation to submit proposals for the development of a Magaliesberg Biosphere Registration Application. It would appear that NWDACE has budgeted two million rand for the project.
Fins to Provides Additional Funds
Malinda Grove informs us that the Magaliesberg Biosphere Tender was advertised by NWDACE, following which a briefing session was held with service providers on 16 April. NWDACE has also made a submission to the Finnish Government for additional funding for the Biosphere Project.
MEC confirms intention to submit application
MEC Boitumelo Shadrack Tshwene's budget speech is presented in the North West Provincial Legislature.
"This programme is designed to meet one of the most challenging issues the world faces today: how to conserve the diversity of plants, animals and micro organisms which make up our living biosphere and maintain healthy natural systems, while at the same time meeting the material needs and aspirations of an increasing number of people....The Magaliesberg range was proclaimed as a Protected Natural Environment back in 1977. We will therefore submit our proposal to the Minister to declare the Magaliesburg (sic) proposal as a biosphere."
Malinda Grove informs us that Supply Chain of NWDACE has put the tender on hold due to financial constraints.
Lebo Diale Appointed
Malinda Grove informs us that the NWDACER’s Finnish partners in the Biosphere process will be visiting at the end of the month to start working on the process from their side. Lebo Diale, the person now in charge of NW DACER’s Biosphere process, arranges with us for a meeting to take place between the Finns and the Biosphere Steering committee on 25 November.
ICI send representation to SA
Institutional Cooperation Instrument (ICI)'s sent three members to SA to prepare a proposal document recommending support from the ICI for the Magaliesberg Biosphere Project.
At a workshop there was a presentation on the ICI, which provides institutional support and funding for projects supported by the Provincial Government and the relevant Finnish institution. This was followed by presentations on the Paijanne Biosphere Initiative and the environmental collaboration that has been taking place between Finland and Russia. Vincent Carruthers and Paul Fatti presented the details and motivation of the Magaliesberg Biosphere Initiative. Presentations on the Cradle of Humankind, followed and included in the Biosphere and the Harties Metse a me (Hartbeespoort Dam water remediation) programme.
A positive response may lead to a full-time coordinator (funded by the ICI) being appointed for the Magaliesberg Biosphere project, whose task will be to prepare the UNESCO application document, as well as to carry out all the other required activities, such as consulting with stakeholders and establishing a Stakeholder’s Forum, most probably with the help of a consultant (funded by NW-DACERD).
Focus on Children
The Festival catered for young people through a variety of activities
Festival: Promoting Sustainable Living
A festival hosted jointly by the Magaliesberg Biosphere and the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy to promote various aspects of sustainable living and of the Biosphere
The Biosphere Initiative was given a major boost with an offer by Impala Platinum Holdings to fund all of the Biosphere activity planned for the remainder of this year.
While the Biosphere Initiative Group is celebrating the acquisition of resources to pursue its mission, the NW Province has also received substantial funding for its role in establishing the biosphere - almost R5 million from the Finland Government and another R4 million from provincial funds.
Gauteng returns to Steering Committee
The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, represented by Shafick Hoosein, is back on the Steering Committee.
Non-Profit Company Registered by MBIG
A non-profit company - the Magaliesberg Biosphere - is registered by the law firm, Bell Dewar & Hall. For the purposes of registration, members of the MBIG will fulfil the role of directors. As soon as a large enough number of the Biosphere community have become members, the directors will be replaced through an election process.
Members are joining from many different sectors of the Biosphere community: landowners and land occupiers, tourism enterprises, industries, mines, schools, universities, faith organisations, NGO’s and many others. One of the most valued recent members is the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy.
Consultants Appointed to prepare application
Contour Project Management was appointed as consultants to manage the Biosphere registration process. MBIG revised its objectives and business plan for the Magaliesberg Biosphere Section 21 Company
The Value of the Biosphere
First round of public presentations: MBIG address the public.
Public Participation Meetings
The Consultant calls Public Participation Meetings for various focus groups
The Consulting firm publishes various reports, including:
Zonation Definitions and Land Use Guidelines,
and the Management Plan
MEC and Premier to sign application
The Magaliesberg Biosphere Initiative took a significant step forward in the beginning of June 2012 when the North West Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism organised a launching ceremony during which the province and affected stakeholders formally endorsed the Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve.
The Premier of the North West Province, Ms. Thandi Modise called on young people to be actively involved in the preservation and conservation of the environment. She urged people to pay attention to the damage being done to the earth and to the impact this would have on future generations.
Premier Modise acknowledged the role of their international funders and partners: "This project could not have been successful without the partnership that we forged with the Finnish Environment institute and Central Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment", she said.
The Chairman of the Magaliesberg Biosphere Initiative Group, Mr. Vincent Carruthers, also expressed appreciation to the Finnish delegation and the funding which made it possible to complete the research and preparations for the UNESCO biosphere application.
Gauteng cut from the application
City of Tshwane, Mogale City, Cradle of Humankind and Gauteng Province not prepared to sign application.
The documentation is re-worked to remove all Gauteng areas.
International Coordinating Council (ICC) of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme meeting held in Paris
The ICC meets annually to consider among other matters, nominations for Biosphere Reserve. The ICC heeded the Advisory Committee's conclusion to DEFER the proposal. The statement by the ICC read:
The Council noted that after the Advisory Committee meeting, the Member State sent to the MAB Secretariat additional information on Pelindaba confirming its civil research function. However, the Council would like to recall the deliberations of the twenty-fourth session of the MAB-ICC where the nomination of the proposed Terres de l'Ebre (Spain) biosphere reserve was deferred due to a similar case. The Council reconsidered the proposal in light of additional information provided by the authorities about the Nuclear Research Centre and decided to defer this proposal. The Council invited the Member State to revise the nomination to present a complete biosphere reserve zonation in conformity with the Statutory Framework of the WNBR based on consultation with local communities and to exclude the nuclear reactor from the proposed area.
Meeting of International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere
UNESCO Director – General: Acknowledged the importance and contribution of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) to networking and sharing. The WNBR is a map of global scientific cooperation for protection of biodiversity. For 40 years the MAB Programme has been very concretely putting science at the service of peace and sustainable development and demonstrating the connections between human development and ecosystems, and between biological and cultural diversity. The MAB Programme reinforces the link between knowledge and policy, and between science and policy, to craft solutions for sustainability.
Application for Magaliesberg Biosphere deferred
"The Council reconsidered the proposal in light of additional information provided by the authorities about the Nuclear Research Centre at Pelindaba and decided to defer this proposal. The Council invited South Africa to revise the nomination to present a complete biosphere reserve zonation in conformity with the Statutory Framework of the World Network of Biopshere Reserves based on consultation with local communities and to exclude the nuclear reactor from the proposed area."
Vincent Carruthers resigns from the Steering Committee
The Project Steering Committee brings together organs of state and the general public, represented by MBIG. Vincent Carruthers resigned as Chairman of MBIG in favour of Paul Fatti, and resigned also from the Steering Committee. Vincent continues as Chairman of the Not for Profit Company, Magaliesberg Biosphere
Endorsements trickle in - JHB in the balance
“The encouraging news is that most of the Gauteng endorsements for the Biosphere have been signed, including most of the provincial departments as well as the municipalities of Mogale City, West Rand and Tshwane. Three more signatures are awaited, those from the Gauteng departments of Economic Development and Sports and Recreation and from the City of Johannesburg. The first two are apparently a formality, but Johannesburg is still in the balance.” ~ Paul Fatti, Chairman of MBIG
All signatures in on Biosphere endorsements!
The application for the Magaliesberg Biosphere is ready, with all required signatures from Gauteng and North West, to return to National Department of Environmental Affairs. From there, the application will be returned to UNESCO for re-consideration.
Revised nomination is submitted to UNESCO
NW Officials and Contour Project Manager revise the maps included in the submission. The changes are to exclude the NECSA property specifically and only.
MBIG submits proposal to NW to promote the Biosphere and facilitate the appointment of a board
A proposal is submitted to address the vacuum at the end of public participation and the completion of the work by Contour Project Managers.
There is no response to the proposal from NW.
The proposal is a repetition of an offer made in June 2012 which also did not receive a response.
Pelindaba Excision Re-Considered
Officials informed that an excised "island" within the Biosphere was not acceptable. Officials revert with a proposal which excludes all land south of Pelindaba. Effectively removing from the biosphere a focus area for the expansion of protected areas strategically identified, one of the largest and oldest conservancies, and the a GDARD stewardship project.
Officials invite Francolin and Rhenosterspruit Conservancies to a meeting to inform them of this revision.
MBIG rallies to prepare alternative proposals to address the excising of the nuclear facility
Belinda Cooper and Mercia Komen produce maps and reasoned arguments for alternatives to the buffer areas. Ecological services, environmental value and government programmes are referenced.
Advisory Committee to the ICC consider re-submission of proposed Biosphere
The statement by the Advisory Committee reads:
The Advisory Committee strongly encouraged the authorities to resubmit a nomination that
will address the following elements:
Improvement in the zonation pattern, namely the core area and buffer zone, in order to fulfill the criteria in the Statutory Framework of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves;
Exclusion of Pelindaba and the surrounding area from the biosphere reserve proposal,
possibly by using natural boundaries, for example rivers.
Submission must be ready by 30 September 2014
Heads of Department of GDARD and DEDECT have declared that the aim of completion of the submission by 15 September must be met. If the submission reaches UNESCO by 30 September 2014, its reply is expected by March 2015.
NW Officials call a meeting to discuss action plan to meet September submission date
Steering Committee meets in Rustenburg to put together an action plan to meet the September submission date. An agenda item includes "Securing Endorsements"
Formal offer to assist
Members of MBIG request information and guidance from NW Officials on where endorsements are needed for the September submission. There is no response.
UNESCO report critical of zonation pattern and notes that NO changes were submitted
“158. The Council acknowledged with appreciation the additional information provided with regards to its previous recommendation with regards to the Pelindaba area. The Council congratulated the authorities for revising the zonation which now excludes Pelindaba nuclear centre and the surrounding area from the biosphere reserve proposal.
159. However, there has been no update of the zonation pattern of buffer and transition zone of the proposed biosphere reserve. Therefore, the Council deferred the proposal. The Council strongly encouraged the authorities to resubmit a proposal with an improved zonation pattern with regard to the core areas and buffer zones, in order to fulfill the criteria in the Statutory Framework of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves”.
Target date for a re-drawn map and explanatory summary
The re-drawn map and explanatory summary will be distributed to MBIG for comments by 22 August 2014.
NW officials distribute map and summary for comment by 12 September
The Rezoning Supplementary Report of September 2014 states:
"..given the requirement for endorsement of in particular the buffer zones, only those properties for which endorsement of the buffer zones could be secured, were submitted as part of the Nomination."
Effectively, this leaves parts of the Core without endorsed buffers, and therefore the submission fails to meet the criteria set by UNESCO.
HOD for Department of Agriculture and Rural Development NW and MBIG to meet
Obtaining the endorsements for the Magaliesberg Biosphere is a priority action. The HOD, Poncho Mokaila, officials from the Department, and members of MBIG meet to discuss and plan.
The HOD assures all that the resources required will be available to meet the deadline.
Advisory Committee supports listing
The advisory committee to UNESCO supports the listing of Magaliesberg Biosphere.
The Magaliesberg mountain range and the Cradle of Humankind are the core areas of the Biosphere, and an array of conservancies and other privately owned land form the buffer. The recommendation by the Advisory Committee of Biosphere Reserves will be considered and decided on 12 June in Paris.
Landowners in the Biosphere rallied to assist with obtaining the endorsements needed.
Call goes out to keen photographers to support the application by sending their photographs of the Magaliesberg Biosphere - a photograph that captures what defines the region.
We receive photographs from Ivan Latti, Judd Kirkel, Niko Knigge and Mercia Komen.
The Magaliesberg has been declared a World Biosphere Reserve!
“We are delighted with this 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.
Now the work begins...!
Various officials and members of Magaliesberg Biosphere Initiative Group meet with Johan West of Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, learning from the experience of the oldest Biosphere Reserve in South Africa.
Stakeholder invited to nominate board members
All stakeholders are invited to nominate suitable candidates to serve as their representatives on the management board of the Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve.
The appointment of the board members is achieved through a voting process.
Board members represent the many stakeholders, in providing strategies and direction for the promotion and sustainable development and utilization of the Magaliesberg Biosphere.