Recent advances in theories underpinning the history of the landscape and social sciences have concluded that man's influence has become so significant that almost every landscape we see today has had as its overriding influence human activity in the past.
Even the most 'natural-appearing' habitats are in fact cultural habitats, largely created or preserved through human influence. Seeking to maintain these areas in their current state and maintaining biodiversity, is also a cultural response- a purposeful intervention by people to maintain something they value.
We look at the early history of the Kruger National Park in this light.
One powerful expression of these values came in the last 50 years with a remarkable partnership between public and private landowners in the Greater Kruger Park. In an agreement that was groundbreaking on an international scale, the National Park and adjacent private reserves in the Central Lowveld undertook to remove the park's western fences and those within the private reserves to yield a single, homogenously managed area of natural beauty. This foresight has undoubtedly enhanced the region's biodiversity and greatly enhanced the opportunities for eco-tourism.
Map of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve
In 1993 a historic event for the ecosystem occurred and the first in a series of major Kruger fence removals- 180km of western boundary fence was removed from the areas adjoining the private and provincial nature reserves. A further 200km of eastern fence is now planned for removal as wilderness areas in the countries of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are united into the Great Limpopo Park. This could in turn be followed by the removal of up to 300 further kilometres over the next five years between communities and private landowners.
The protected areas of southern Africa's eastern savannahs and escarpment now make up a unique constellation of reserves and resource areas, the likes of which are found nowhere else in the world. Covering < a href="../learningcentre/kruger_biomes.php">three biomes - savannah woodland, Afro-montane forest and montane grasslands, these protected areas and resource areas are approximately 4,800,000 hectares in extent, are made up of national parks, provincial nature reserves, private reserves and resource areas, as well as international state land.
Relative Sizes Of The Kruger To Canyon (Red) And Serengeti-Masai Mara-Ngorongoro Complexes
The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve also represents the last chance to preserve the complete and unique ecosystem that existed here prior to its political, social and biological fragmentation. These disruptive processes have been taking place since the substantial increase in the density of the human population in the region in the late nineteenth century. Recognition of the region as a UNESCO Biosphere is a significant step in the right direction.
A brief history of the region's protected resources starts here.