The Magaliesberg under threat Print E-mail
News - Ons Omgewing
Monday, 19 August 2019 20:38
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The Magaliesberg Mountain range stretches from the Bronkhorstspruit Dam in the east to just south of Pilanesberg in the Rustenburg area in the west. Few people are aware of the treaty entered into by the Department of Environmental Affairs and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) with the aim to protect and preserve this range.

In our area increased mining activities are placing more stress on the biodiversity and sustainable ecosystems of this range and threaten our natural heritage. Well-known environmentalist and author, Vincent Carruthers, writes that the Magaliesberg region was designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) International Co-ordinating Council in Paris on 9 June 2015.

Vincent explains that a biosphere is an area of special environmental and cultural importance where people and organisations make a commitment to live and work in harmony with nature. Unlike a nature reserve where development is not permitted or strictly limited, the biosphere concept tries to harmonize sound economic activity with natural ecosystems.

The Old Bronkhorstspruit Road in front of the Magaliesberg with the Diamond Hill range across
the road and the Bronberg in the background
Photo: www.mountainpassessouthafrica

Biospheres are made up of three zones: At the centre is a core area where the natural environment is legally protected. Around the core is a buffer zone for activities such as tourism, education, research and some kinds of residence. Beyond that is a transitional zone where any economic activity can take place, provided it is carried out according to sustainable principles.

Vincent says that the Magaliesberg is virtually without equal in the world for richness of history and biodiversity. Since its formation two and a half billion years ago, it has been seared by rivers of larva, buried under polar ice and swept by desert sands.

“Today it lies on the boundary of two great African biomes, the central grassland plateaux and the sub-Saharan bushveld savannah. The rugged mountain landscape provides habitats and microclimates for plants and animals from both of these biomes. The consequent variety of wildlife is exceptional,” he says.

“The biodiversity of the Magaliesberg is matched by its unique human heritage. Here we find evidence of our earliest hominid ancestors along with the tools and artefacts of ancient Stone and Iron Age cultures.”

Vincent says that it was from these mountains that Mzilikazi governed his huge kingdom. This was a major theatre of the two Anglo Boer Wars (in 1880 and from 1899 to 1902), including the Battles of Bronkhorstspruit and Diamond Hill.  Remnant fortifications remain on the hillsides as monuments to the courage and suffering of those times.

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