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Support to Magaliesberg Biosphere Initiative, South Africa

Project Description

 Core area of the Magaliesberg mountain.
Core area of the Magaliesberg mountain. ©Riku Lumiaro

The project was financed through the Institutional Cooperation Instrument (ICI) the purpose of which is to strengthen the capacity of public administration organisations in partner countries. In this project the Finnish Environment Institute and the Central Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and Environment supported the authorities in North West and Gauteng provinces to establish and manage the Magaliesberg biosphere area to be registered under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme. The partnership also aimed at supporting the establishment process of the Lake Päijänne biosphere area in Finland. The cooperation was based on a Memorandum of Understanding between the Finnish Environment Institute and the North West Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism. The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development was the competent authority in Gauteng province. In addition, a number of local stakeholder organisations participated in the process and some of them are permanent members of the Magaliesberg Biosphere Steering Committee.

During the first fiscal year, two professional visits were organised, one to Sweden and Finland and one to South Africa. During those visits experiences in Biosphere establishment and management were exchanged, criteria for borders and zoning for the Magaliesberg Biosphere were developed and a “Communication Strategy and Action Plan” for the Project was elaborated.

The main activities of the second year included drafting of borders and zones of the proposed Magaliesberg Biosphere; planning and implementation of the consultative process; capacity building on Geographic Information Systems (GIS); and drafting of the Biosphere Management Plan and the UNESCO Application Dossier. A Professional Visit to Finland for GIS training of two South African experts was organised.

During the final year (2012), the borders and zoning, Environmental Education Plan, Biosphere Management Plan and the UNESCO Application Dossier were finalised. The Magaliesberg Biosphere Endorsement Ceremony (World Environment Day Event) was organised in early June 2012 to give the project more publicity to the locals as well as people from other provinces.

The UNESCO Biosphere Application was approved by the South African national Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and submitted to UNESCO first in September 2012, and the final application was submitted in September 2014. The designation of the Biosphere Reserve was approved at the 27th Session of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere International Coordinating Council in Paris, France, on 9 June 2015, covering approximately 360,000 ha.

It is assumed that the registration of the Magaliesberg Biosphere under the UNESCO MAB Programme will improve possibilities for environmentally sustainable socio-economic development by promoting the protection of the living environment of the population and catalysing environmental business opportunities (“green economy”). The Biosphere “lable” can be used in branding of products and services in the region. It can also help generating good social responsibility projects for the private sector, such as mining industries, and encourage skills development of the poor through projects of NGOs, private sector and international development agencies.

Services provided by SYKE and Central Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and Environment

About 10 Finnish experts on Biosphere area management, nature conservation, environmental information, communication and education provided their expertise for the implementation of the project.

Ms Thandi Modise
The Premier of the North West Province, Ms. Thandi Modise expressed her gratitude for good cooperation between South Africa and Finland to Päivi Halinen, Head of Nature Conservation of the Central Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and Environment. ©Riku Lumiaro

More Information

Magaliesberg Biosphere (Project website)

Magaliesberg Biosphere Unesco (Project website)

Pekka J. Salminen, Project Manager, International Affairs Unit, Finnish Environment Institute

Published 2013-04-11 at 12:21, updated 2016-05-24 at 12:46

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