What is Biodiversity and Why is it Important?

Biodiversity means the variety of life, in all its forms. It includes the variety of species and ecosystems (communities and interrelations of species) in the world, and also genetic variation.


Human beings are dependent for their sustenance, health and well-being on fundamental biological systems and processes. This includes all of our food, many medicines and industrial products, as well as the air we breathe. Without insects and other invertebrates, for example, human life on this planet would be impossible. Increasingly, governments are beginning to understand the critical importance of biodiversity, and are taking steps to , ensure that sustainable development takes into account the long term needs of the natural world, and a worldwide acceptance of the importance of maintaining biodiversity.


Mpumalanga and Biodiversity

Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency understands the vital importance of having a solid foundation and continuing flow of information on biodiversity in the province, and play a fundamental role in decisions relating to sustainable development and conservation in the province. Our province boasts a high level of biological diversity, with three recognised centres of endemism in the province (Barberton, Sekhukhuneland and Wolkberg) and one proposed centre of endemism (Lydenburg). The level of protection of these centres is, however, very low and conservation effortsare in place to address this. Despite this though, many areas of the province are still in pristine condition.

Endangered and Threatened Species

Our challenge extends to providing protection for the 85 threatened and 57 endangered species within Mpumalanga Province, with appropriate actions to address habitat loss, environmental degradation and fragmentation of landscapes.

Conserved Areas

Although Mpumalanga is renowned for diversity of flora and fauna, critical areas of high biodiversity importance in Mpumalanga are not well conserved. To this end, we have a commitment conservation planning that has the support and buy-in of the entire governance system. Biodiversity and conservation has been identified as a priority – and we aim to be successful.

High Level Biological Diversity

Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency is custodian of 15 protected areas spread across three district municipalities, namely:

Ehlanzeni District
  • Andover Nature Reserve
  • Barberton Nature Reserve
  • Blyde River Canyon
  • Mahushe Shongwe Nature Reserve         
  • Manyeleti Nature Reserve
  • Mthethomusha Nature Reserve

Gert Sibande District 
  • Nooitgedacth Dam Nature Reserve         
  • Songimvelo Nature Reserve




Nkangala District
  • Loskop Dam Nature Reserve
  • Mabusa Nature Reserve
  • Mkhombo Nature Reserve
  • Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve
  • S.S Skosana Nature Reserve
Established in terms of the Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Agency Act 2005, our objective is to provide for the management and promotion of responsible tourism and nature conservation in the Province and to ensure sustainable utilisation of natural resources for the benefit of everyone.

Our province boasts a high level of biological diversity, and the parks and conservation areas that fall under the jurisdiction of the Agency play a vital role in stimulating and maintaining economic growth for the province and are the backbone of the biodiversity initiatives which are critical to sustainable development and conservation.

Whilst we are fortunate to preside over relatively pristine wilderness areas, our commitment and challenge is to preserve and protect all flora and fauna in the province, including rare and threatened species by preventing habitat loss, environmental degradation, and fragmentation of landscape.


Boniwe Simon Shoba 
Senior Manager: Protected Areas Management
Email: Boniwe.Shoba@mtpa.co.za
Tel: 073 260 9328