1.         Vredefort Dome (South Africa) (N 1162)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2005

Criteria  (viii)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1162/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1162/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

April 2008 and September 2010: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN monitoring missions 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Theft and vandalism;

b) Pollution of the Vaal River;

c) Lack of tourism management, particularly access. 

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1162/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

On 1 February 2011, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party. The report gives a clear overview of the implementation of the 2008 reactive monitoring mission recommendations. From 10 to 14 September 2010, a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission visited the property, as requested by the State Party at the World Heritage Committee’s 33rd session (Seville, 2009). The mission report is available online at the following Web address: http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/35COM.

a) Effective protection and management of the property

The State Party recalls that while the South African World Heritage Convention Act (No 49 of 1999) requires every property inscribed on the World Heritage List to be proclaimed as a World Heritage Site under national legislation, Vredefort Dome’s proclamation was delayed due to formal objections from a number of local land owners. However, the State Party envisages that this proclamation will be completed by April 2011. The State Party also reports that the establishment of an integrated management office for the property and appointment of staff will take place alongside its proclamation under national legislation. It also notes that the appointment of management staff is ongoing and that some office infrastructure has already been put in place, which will be transferred to the future Management Authority once it is established.

As requested in Decision 33 COM 7B.5, the mission advised the State Party, jointly with a number of stakeholders, on: (i) the development of an Action Plan to ensure that effective protection and management is rapidly put in place; and (ii) the definition of legal boundaries for the property’s three satellite serial sites. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that these integrity issues were originally raised by IUCN at the time of inscription. The mission took part in formal stakeholder meetings where all parties, including three land owner groups, a tourism group and a government group, agreed that the property should be proclaimed. The mission also met with the mediator who was recruited by the Government to facilitate the proclamation process with consultation of the land owners associations. The mission further developed a Statement of Advice to the State Party considering the views it heard from the local stakeholders. This Statement was a contribution to the State Party’s Action Plan, which will guide the urgent implementation of effective management at Vredefort Dome. The mission concluded that while at the present time the boundaries of the three satellite sites are clear under the Convention, they are not optimal in relation to the management of the property and should be re-defined in law, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that while the State Party has achieved significant progress in implementing the 2008 mission recommendations, there is a need to urgently finalise the proclamation of the property under national legislation, establish a Management Authority and ensure on-ground management. Following actions proposed by the mission are to be considered in priority: (i) clearly define the Management Authority’s accountabilities and responsibilities, and revise and adopt the draft Integrated Management Plan (in line with the 2010 mission Advice Note to the State Party); (ii) provide clear planning control guidance to address unapproved tourism developments, and (iii) define the legal boundaries for the property’s three satellite serial sites, and ensure that tourism impacts on key vulnerable geological localities within the property are minimised.

 

b) Unapproved developments and tourism management

The State Party reports that the North West Provincial Government has passed a Land Use Management Act that now regulates a wide range of activities, including socio-economic and heritage impacts of proposed development projects. It also recalls that an exhibition centre for Vredefort Dome, just outside the boundaries of the property, is almost completed and should provide both needed space and human resources for the site.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also note that while the Land Use Management Act and the exhibition centre are positive steps, it will be important to coordinate the management of tourism developments between the two provinces (North West and Free State) that share jurisdiction of the property, and to provide official World Heritage presentation areas for visitors. The joint mission concluded that unapproved tourism developments and unmanaged visitor use could pose a threat to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), including its rural landscape setting. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN remain concerned about the accelerated rate of tourism development and recall that as awareness and promotion of the property increase, so will the interest by land owners to invest in tourism. In the absence of approved planning guidance and a management plan, these developments will remain a threat to the integrity of the property. They are of the opinion that unapproved developments and tourism management should be urgently addressed through the implementation of the four priority actions outlined above in section a).

 

c) Other conservation issues

The State Party reports a number of other conservation issues affecting the property, including the pollution of the Vaal River and agricultural practices in the areas surrounding the property. Concerning the Vaal River, the State Party notes that a recent study found that most of its tributaries downstream of the Vaal Dam are in a critical state of ecological decline. It states that in order to address this issue, the Ngwathe Municipality has recently refurbished the Parys Wastewater Treatment Works, which has reportedly stopped sewage overflows into the river. The State Party also reports that it is developping an Environmental Management Framework (EMF) for Vredefort Dome and its surrounding areas in order to address any unsuitable farming practices.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are of the opinion that there is cause for concern over the critical state of the Vaal River and its tributaries and note that the joint mission found evidence of partially treated sewage entering the river at the Parys Wastewater Treatment Works, implying that its refurbishment must have been very recent. They consider that the high levels of pollution are likely to cause dieback of streamside vegetation and could affect the rural landscape setting of the property, which forms part of its OUV. They are of the view that once the permanent Management Authority is established, this issue is addressed in collaboration with relevant stakeholders and that, in view of the ongoing development of irrigation-intensive pecan nut farming, the State Party should pay particular attention to the hydrology of the area within the EMF, and ensure sustainable use of ground and surface water, as this will also be an important factor in maintaining the rural landscape setting of the property, which forms part of its OUV.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that while the State Party has made progress in establishing legal protection and effective management for the property, there is an urgent need to finalize the proclamation of Vredefort Dome’s World Heritage status under national legislation, establish a Management Authority, and implement the priority actions outlined in paragraph 4 of the draft decision below. 

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7B.5

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.5, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Commends the State Party for the progress achieved in implementing the 2008 mission recommendations;

4. Takes note of the efforts undertaken by the State Party to finalize the proclamation of the World Heritage status under national legislation, with the help of a Mediator and requests the State Party to:

a) Urgently finalize this process, and submit the proclamation to the World Heritage Centre as soon as possible,

b) Establish a Management Authority, and

c) Ensure on-ground management;

5. Also requests the State Party to urgently implement the following additional priority actions:

a) Clearly define the Management Authority's accountabilities and responsibilities and revise and adopt the draft Integrated Management Plan, in line with the 2010 mission Advice Note to the State Party,

b) Provide clear planning control guidance to address unapproved tourism developments,

c) Define the legal boundaries and clearly demarcate them on the ground, for the property's three satellite serial sites, including through a minor boundary modification, and ensure that tourism impacts on key vulnerable geological localities within the property are minimised, and

d) Initiate studies and targeted actions to ensure the sustainable use of ground and surface water, as this is an important factor in maintaining the rural landscape setting of the property, which forms part of its Outstanding Universal Value;

6. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a report on the state of conservation of the property and on the steps taken to implement the recommendations of the 2008 and 2010 reactive monitoring missions, and in particular the progress achieved in proclaiming Vredefort Dome's World Heritage status under national legislation, in establishing the Management Authority, and in re-defining the boundaries of the satellite component sites of the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 8E

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/8E,

2. Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex I of Document WHC-11/35.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:

- Afghanistan: Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam; Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley;

- Bahrain: Qal'at al-Bahrain - Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun;

- Benin: Royal Palaces of Abomey;

- Botswana: Tsodilo;

- Cameroon: Dja Faunal Reserve;

- Central African Republic: Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park;

- China: Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas;

- Germany: Upper Middle Rhine Valley;

- India: Manas Wildlife Sanctuary;

- Kenya: Lake Turkana National Parks; Lamu Old Town;

- Malawi: Chongoni Rock-Art Area;

- Mali: Old Towns of Djenné;

- Pakistan: Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore;

- Peru: Chan Chan Archaeological Zone;

- Philippines: Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras;

- Senegal: Island of Saint-Louis;

- South Africa: iSimangaliso Wetland Park; Robben Island; Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape; Cape Floral Region Protected Areas; Vredefort Dome;

- Togo: Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba;

- Turkey: Historic Areas of Istanbul;

- Uganda: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park; Rwenzori Mountains National Park;

- United Republic of Tanzania: Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara;

- Yemen: Old Walled City of Shibam; Old City of Sana'a;

- Zimbabwe: Mana Pools National Park, Sapi and Chewore Safari Areas;

3. Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed in priority;

4. Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely:

- World Heritage properties in the Arab States;

- World Heritage properties in Africa;

- World Heritage properties in Asia and the Pacific;

- World Heritage properties in Latin America and the Caribbean;

- World Heritage properties in Europe and North America.