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Economy

The economy of the Biosphere roughly divides the region into three districts, with a focus on ecotourism and agriculture around Hoedspruit, mining around Phalaborwa, and forestry and more traditional mass tourism-based activities in the Pilgrims Rest and Graskop area. Just outside the Biosphere is the extensive citrus, mango and avocado growing region of the Letaba district centred on Tzaneen. The region can be described as the economic engine room of Limpopo Province. At present it is producing an annual Gross Geographic Product in excess of some sixty percent of the province’s total fiscus. Fifty years ago the region contributed less than 10% of the province's GGP. The Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region covers almost 60% of the land and natural resources driving the wealth generation of Limpopo Province.

Tourism revenues derived from the region have increased exponentially since the end of the Apartheid era (1994), having already exceeded those of agriculture; they are expected to surpass mining income within the next twenty years. As a destination for visitors, the region is fed from one side by the Kruger National Park, and the other from the “Panoramic Route”. This links Pilgrims Rest and Graskop with the natural splendour of Blyde River Canyon’s Three Rondavels, God’s Window and Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Visitors then cross the Dipadeng mountain pass and drop down from the Drakensberg escarpment into the Valley of the Olifants, and on to the savannah plains of the safari region of the Central Lowveld.



MINING

The profusion of minerals in the area is attributed to a series of volcanic eruptions 2,000 million years ago. The Phalaborwa area also boasts the only Antimony mine in the Southern Hemisphere at nearby Gravelotte. The cone of the eruption has vanished, but the pipe, an astonishing geological feature, remains.

FORESTRY

The forestry industry is the second largest cultivator of land in South Africa. It has a capital base of R30 billion and an annual turnover of R12 billion. It meets 95% of the country's needs in wood-based products and has a positive trade balance of R2 billion per annum. It is one of the strongest forces in creating rural employment, with more than 200,000 people benefiting directly from employment or income generating opportunities.

TOURISM

Two major road routes straddle the area, linking the private reserves together whilst funnelling visitors into the Kruger at Phalaborwa and Orpen Gates.

These access routes are fed by one of five mountain passes through the Strydom Tunnel, linking the Highveld cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria to the Lowveld via Lydenburg

AGRICULTURE

Commercial agriculture in the Central Lowveld, although somewhat limited in extent geographically, plays an important role as a generator of primary income and job creation. Within the greater Biosphere boundaries substantial exotic fruit production is undertaken

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