At an awards ceremony held recently in Mbombela, the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency and the Mountainlands Estate Owners Association jointly received the KLCBT Environmental Award.
For the past 17 years the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism (KLCBT) has been recognising people and organisations that make a significant contribution to various industries and practices in the Lowveld area.
Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency and the Mountainlands Estate Owners Association were awarded for their united efforts to protect Barberton Nature Reserve and other protected areas against mining and prospecting. Over 75 percent of Mpumalanga’s Nature Reserves were affected by unlawfully issued prospecting and mining rights and a similar situation existed in most other provinces as well. Such unlawfully awarded prospecting and mining rights were regarded as the single biggest threat to Protected Areas in South Africa.
Recently the Constitutional Court upheld the ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal that confirmed the existence of Barberton Nature Reserve as a Protected Area and in effect held that that since 2003 no new prospecting and mining rights ought to have been issued on Protected Areas. This ruling means all Nature Reserves, National Parks and World Heritage Sites across the country are now protected against mining. The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency and the Mountainlands Estate Owners Association drove this ground-breaking case which came about when two mines around Barberton sought to force access onto Barberton Nature Reserve based on unlawful rights they obtained in 2005.