Kruger to Canyons biosphere reserve


General description

Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region, covering 2,474,700 hectares, is located in the north-east of South Africa. It encompasses the Kruger National Park as well as other National and Provincial Nature Reserves such as the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. Three of the Southern African biomes are incorporated into the biosphere reserve, including the grasslands and Afro-montane forests, and the savanna of the lowveld. There is a high level of biodiversity, especially plant endemism on mountain tops.

Approximately 1,5 – 1,6 million people live in the area (1996). Alongside the extensive tracts of conservation areas there are large, rural developing communities living on tribal land, where many of the natural resources have been over-utilized. There are a number of different land use practices in the region including mining for gold, phosphate and copper, the plantation of exotic species and the extensive cultivation of subtropical fruits and vegetables. It is hoped that through the establishment of the biosphere reserve framework and the establishment of partnerships, the quality of life can be improved for the majority of the people and that the integrity of the conservation areas will be secured. Local communities and authorities already have rallied together under the biosphere reserve framework to promote eco-tourism and the maintenance of cultural values.


Major ecosystem type

Tropical grasslands and savanna; Temperate grasslands; Mixed mountain and highland systems; Tropical dry and deciduous forest

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Major habitats and land cover types 

North-eastern mountain Sourveld (montane grassland) including forest with Zanthoxylum davyi, Celtis africana, Podocarpus latifolius, etc. and Sourveld with dominant grass species such as Alloteropsis semialata, Aristida junciformis, Diheteropogon filifolius etc.; lowveld sour bushveld dominated by Acacia ataxacantha, A. caffra, A. sieberiana, Combretum collinum etc.; lowveld characterized by Acacia nigrescens, Sclerocarya birrea spp. caffra, Ziziphus mucronata etc.; arid lowveld with Sclerocarya birrea spp. caffra, Ziziphus mucronata, Cassia abbreviata, Steganotaenia araliacea etc.; mopani veld (savanna woodland) characterized by Acacia nigrescens, A. tortilis, Colophospermum mopane, Combretum apiculatum etc.; mixed bushveld (savanna woodland) including Acacia nigrescens, A. gerrardii, Albizia harveyii etc.; sourish mixed bushveld with Acacia caffra, A. karoo, A. robusta, Rhus guinezii etc.; plantation forestry systems; headwater catchment area; pasture land; gold, phosphate and copper mining areas; game farming; agroecosystems; cultivations of subtropical fruits and vegetables; commercial forestry systems


23°57'S; 30°51'E

Area (hectares)

Total: 2,474,700
Core area(s): 898,300
Buffer zone(s): 476,400
Transition area(s) when given: 1,100,000

Altitude (metres above sea level) +200 to +2,050

Year designated2001


Administrative authorities

National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve Trust

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Research and monitoring

Brief description


  • Weather
  • Biomonitoring of rivers including biological state of rivers, hydrology and geomorphology
  • Save the Sand river project (WRF's AWARD programme)
  • Development of monitoring protocols for Instream Flow Requirements (IFR) with the aim to establish biomonitoring methods (initial and long-term) for rivers
  • Research on the role of fire
  • Copper pollution
  • Ecotoxicological effect of airborne C2 chlorohydrocarbons and the deposition to the vegetation
  • Fire as a management tool


  • Vegetation monitoring
  • Impact of alien vegetation
  • Animal population counts including trends
  • Behavioural and ecological studies on animals
  • Impacts of elephants on woody plant diversity
  • Bird studies
  • Fish studies
  • Diseases in lion and buffalo populations
  • Effects of the closing of artificial water points
  • Predator-prey relationships
  • Herbaceous layer monitoring
  • Crocodile monitoring
  • National survey of medicinal qualities in plants
  • Reintroduction of species historically occurring in the reserve (giraffe, sable and roan)
  • Rare and endangered species monitoring
  • National frog atlas
  • Monitoring of the influence of different levels of grazing utilization
  • Long-term monitoring site
  • Impact of plant harvesting in communal lands
  • Sustainable yields of natural resources in communal lands


  • Community participation
  • Sustainable tourism development
  • Direct-use values of natural resources in communal lands
  • Human health (HIV/TB/stroke/mental disability/physical disability)
  • Human population demographics
  • Household income and wealth status (Agincourt)
  • Status of Mozambican refugees
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Specific variables


Acidic deposition/Acid rain, geomorphology, heavy metals, hydrology, meteorology, pollution, pollutants, toxicology/toxic substances.

Biodiversity :

Alien/Invasive/Exotic/Introduced species, amphibians, arid/semi-arid, biodiversity, birds, conservation, ecology, ethology, fauna, fires/fire ecology, fishes, freshwater/inland water, methodologies, natural medicinal products, natural resources, pests/diseases, plants, population genetics/population dynamics, rare/endangered/threatened species, reintroduction, reptiles, vegetation studies/plant cover, wildlife.


Demography, human health, livestock and related impacts/overgrazing, local participation, monitoring methodologies, resource use, social/socio-economic aspects, tourism.

Integrated monitoring

Impact and risk studies/Environmental impact, management issues, monitoring/methodologies, sustainable development/sustainable use.


Contact details 

Contact address

Ms Marie-Tinka Uys
PO BOX 408

Tel: 551 7261
Fax: +27(0)86 621 +2782 7974


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