On 20 September 2001 the Kruger to Canyons (K2C) Biosphere Reserve was registered in Paris by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) under the UNESCO 'Man and the Biosphere' Programme.
Biosphere reserves are regions of outstanding ecological significance throughout the world where internationally important ecosystems and protected areas lie adjacent to human settlements. They are established to promote solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable use. UNESCO defines a biosphere reserve as a specific type of conservation area, which accommodates and benefits both the natural environment and the communities living in and around it.
K2C became the 411th Biosphere Reserve site to be registered worldwide, acknowledging the global significance of the Greater Kruger bioregion, the eastern savannahs and escarpment of South Africa.
The K2C biosphere has several ideals, including the presence of a core conservation area (the Kruger National Park), buffer areas where conservation is a priority along with commercial activities, and finally transitional zones where there are more people and more commercial activities.
The Blyde Canyon National Park is also recognised as a core conservation area in the biosphere. The biosphere stretches from the Drakensberg escarpment into the lowveld, and contains three of South Africa's seven biomes - grassland, forest and savanna. Within the K2C boundaries there are estimated to be 905 vertebrate species and 2 760 plant species. There are numerous endemic species of plants and animals as well as over 100 red data book animal species.
One of the biosphere's objectives is to engage communities in the concept of sustainable utilisation of resources, and to guide development along sustainable lines. This is in line with the UNESCO 'Man and the Biosphere' programme launched in 1968.