Decision : CONF 209 VIII.A.1
Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park (South Africa)
Property: Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park
Id. N°: 914
State Party: South Africa
Criteria: N (ii) (iii) (iv)
The Committee decided to inscribe the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park on the World Heritage List under natural criteria (ii), (iii) and (iv).
The St. Lucia site consists of thirteen contiguous protected areas with a total size of 234,566 hectares. The site is the largest estuarine system in Africa and includes the southernmost extension of coral reefs on the continent. The site contains a combination of on-going fluvial, marine and aeolian processes that have resulted in a variety of landforms and ecosystems. Features include wide submarine canyons, sandy beaches, forested dune cordon and a mosaic of wetlands, grasslands, forests, lakes and savanna. The variety of morphology as well as major flood and storm events contribute to ongoing evolutionary processes in the area. Natural phenomena include: shifts from low to hyper-saline states in the Park's lakes; large numbers of nesting turtles on the beaches; the migration of whales, dolphins and whale-sharks off-shore; and huge numbers of waterfowl including large breeding colonies of pelicans, storks, herons and terns. The Park's location between sub-tropical and tropical Africa as well as its coastal setting has resulted in exceptional biodiversity including some 521 bird species.
The Committee commended the Government of South Africa on three issues: (a) for the decision to ban sand mining in the area and to subsequently nominate the area for World Heritage; (b) the long history of conservation in the area and the professional work of the Kwazlulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service in maintaining the site; (c) the launch of the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative with the neighbouring countries of Swaziland and Mozambique which provides the regional conservation and development framework for the Greater St. Lucia Area and which will further strengthen community conservation work there.
The Committee noted the possible extensions of the Greater St. Lucia including a possible future transfrontier site with Mozambique. It urged the completion of the land claim negotiations and confirmed that World Heritage site designation should not prejudice this process.
The Observer of France highlighted that this is the first nomination from South Africa and that the Committee's decision to inscribe it is fully in line with the Global Strategy. The Delegate of South Africa thanked the Committee on behalf of the people of South Africa for the inscription of its first site on the World Heritage List.