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      Biosphere Reserve Information

South Africa


  General Description   Human activities:

Vhembe Biosphere Reserve is a favourite destination for eco-tourism, cultural tourism and related activities such as hunting amongst both the local and international visitors.

The area has a relatively large and rapidly growing human population with a high unemployment rate contributing to severe negative impact on natural resources, which are harvested unsustainably.

Within the VBR there are a large number of private game farms and agricultural farms creating an ideal opportunity for the unleashing the economic potential of the established VBR. The biosphere reserve will promote an integrated approach to sustainable development, ensuring that essential ecosystem services are maintained, education is improved, human development and wealth creation are stimulated through better communication and training while conserving the unique ecosystems, species and cultural resources of the region.
Ecological characteristics:

The VBR include three biomes, namely savanna, grassland, and forest, four bioregions and twenty three different vegetation types or biotopes. Eight of these biotopes are endemic to South Africa. The area is also a bio-geographical node, comprising of the Kalahari, Lowveld bioregions having temperate, tropical climatic conditions. This creates zones of ecologically important interactions, which need to be protected to ensure conservation viability

The South African National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment (NSBA) has included the Blouberg and Soutpansberg complex as one of its nine priority areas for conservation action based on a combined analysis of species, ecosystems and ecological processes. The same area is also listed by Van Wyk and Smith (2001) as a hotspot of South African biodiversity and endemism.

Lake Fundudzi in the Soutpansberg Mountains is the only natural inland lake in Southern Africa. Several wetlands in the same mountain range contain peat which harbors information going back 12 000 years BP (before present).
Protection classifications:

The VBR includes the northern part of the Kruger National Park, the Mapungubwe National Park and World heritage site, several Provincial Nature Reserves, two recognized centers of biodiversity and endemism (the Soutpansberg and Blouberg) and the Makgabeng Plateau with more than 1000 rock art sites.
  Major ecosystem type  
  Major habitats & land cover types  
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   30,701
  Core area(s)  
  Buffer zone(s)  
  Transition area(s) when given  
  Altitude (metres above sea level)  
  Year designated   2009
  Administrative authorities   Limpopo Provincial Government, Polokwane
  Brief description  
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   n.a.
  Biodiversity   n.a.
  Socio-economic   n.a.
  Integrated monitoring   n.a.
  Contact address    Department of Economic Development
Environment and Tourism, Evridiki Towers, No. 20 Hans van Rensberg Street
0700 Polokwane
South Africa
  Telephone   015 293 8300
  Fax   015 293 8319
  Web site

Last updated: 18/06/2010

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