At the time of inscription, IUCN noted that invasive species were the most severe threat to the continued existence of the Fynbos ecosystems that characterise this property. At its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), the World Heritage Centre and IUCN reported on increasing problems with the control and management of invasive species in this property, as a result of a lack of funding to properly manage this threat. The lack of control of invasive species also resulted in an increasing intensity of uncontrolled wild fires. In its decision 31 COM 7B.8, the World Heritage Committee requested a report to its 33rd session on efforts made in relation to the above threats, together with progress towards establishing a single coordinating authority for the property, the planned extension of the property and information on the budgets allocated to the property.
On 29 January 2009, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party, responding to the information requested in the decision.
a) Establishment of a single management authority
The State Party reports that in line with the World Heritage Convention Act, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) has been appointed as the single overall management authority for the property. DEAT has decided to delegate part of its authority to the three management agencies in charge of the different components, SANParks, CapeNature and the Eastern Cape Parks Board (ECPB), which continue to ensure the management of the components for which they have the lead responsibility. Coordination will be ensured through a Joint Management Committee, which includes the Chief Executive Officers of these three entities together with a representative of DEAT. A paper describing in detail the functioning of this management structure was annexed to the State Party report.
b) Extension of the property
The State Party further reports that the extension and buffering of the property is underway. Currently, an assessment of protected areas suitable for inclusion within an extended property is being finalized, based on a rigorous set of criteria. The State Party hopes to submit the nomination for the extension to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2010. It is anticipated that the nominated extension will include extensions of existing protected areas, creation of several new protected areas and an extension of buffer zones. These are being considered within a number of landscape initiatives under the Cape Action People and Environment programme (CAPE), which is seeking to create wildlife corridors to increase the connectivity between the components within the property and to improve the long term viability of the protected area estate. This increased connectivity would also further enhance the resilience of the property to climate change.
c) Budgets to combat invasive plants and monitor fire impacts
The State Party report presents detailed information on the budgets allocated to the management of fire and invasive species in the property, confirming a significant additional allocation from the Provincial Treasury of R23.8million (c. USD 2.5million) in the financial year 2009/10 in addition to the R87.7 million in the 2008/09 budget.
The report notes that while both CapeNature, which is responsible for six of the eight component parts of the property, and Eastern Cape Parks Board (ECPB), in charge of the management of the Baviaanskloof component, have been able to steadily increase their functioning budgets, they remain underfunded. To address this, both agencies have engaged in a process (termed a Business Case Analysis) to demonstrate the specific requirements for additional funding to fulfil their mandates, for presentation to their respective funders. It is hoped that this process will lead to a further substantial increase in funding for both organisations. Cape Nature is also receiving substantial funding through the “Working for Water” programme of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. While ECPB is not directly receiving such funding, the “Working for Water” programme is also funding clearing of invasives in Baviaanskloof through the Gamtoos Irrigation Board.
Both organisations also have fire monitoring and management systems in place. While these systems are considered effective given the available resources, the report mentions that they could be further strengthened if a higher budget for these activities were available.
The State Party further reports on efforts to increase the effectiveness of the clearing of alien invasive species in the property by developing a more strategic approach in the selection of areas for clearing, prioritizing catchments to be targeted and prioritizing the alien species to target according to their level of threat.
The report does not make specific mention of any proposals for budget increases for SANParks, which is also managing one component of the property (Table Mountain National Park), although it notes that the fire management budget for this component exceeds R10million per year, and that R8million is dedicated to clearing invasive alien plants. Concern over increased fires in this component has led to commissioning of an update of the fire management programme.
d) Monitoring programmes
In addition to the fire monitoring activities mentioned above, the State Party reports on several other monitoring and evaluation programmes that have been put in place to monitor performance of the management agencies to conserve the biodiversity in their protected area system. However, it is not clear to what extent there is a monitoring process devoted to reporting specifically on the World Heritage property.
The State Party report notes that there are no other serious conservation issues facing the property, but mentions the threat from climate change. IUCN notes that it continues to receive reports of a range of other stresses to the property, in particular on water use and pollution, livestock and infrastructure. However, these are not reported to be of direct concern to the overall values of the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the removal of other stresses from a protected area is a key strategy to maximise its resilience for climate change. Continued attention to minimising the impacts from these and other threats to the property is therefore essential.