The small farming town of Groot Marico in the North West province, has been declared a biosphere reserve.

A biosphere is a protected area. It hosts all forms of life and ecosystems. The Groot Marico biosphere reserve is one of two in the province and covers 450 000 hectares. It is the second to be declared in the province.

Nearly four years ago, the Magaliesberg reserve was also declared a biosphere. There are 669 biospheres worldwide and South Africa has 10.

To be declared a biosphere reserve, is no easy feat.

“Through public participation, many meetings, many weekends we had to get all the studies from all the animals types that is here, what is the soil composition, what type of grass do we find here, what birds species are here, also the river. Specifically here we have small fishes called a Marico Minkiy , you don’t find it anywhere else,” said Marico River Conservation Association Member, Dr Dirk Wijnbeek.

The Groot Mariko is also an important water recharge area. It supplies clean water to surrounding communities and countries such as  Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

The provincial Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development is on a drive to create awareness.

“What we going to do is also to create awareness as a province to other communities even in the region across the province to make that they understand what is a biosphere. Like I am saying, it is a protected area it seeks that we reconcile the biodiversity usage with its sustainability,” said Environment and Agricultural Development, Manketse Tlhape.

The Marico River Conservation Association says plans are unfolding, to expand the hectares of the biosphere in future.