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World Heritage Convention

Decision 31 COM 8B.20
Nomination of natural, mixed and cultural properties to the world heritage list - Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, South Africa

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-07/31.COM/8B, WHC-07/31.COM/INF.8B.1 and WHC-07/31.COM/INF.8B.2,

2. Inscribes the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, South Africa, on the World Heritage List as a living, evolving cultural landscape on the basis of criteria (iv) and (v);

3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value :

The extensive communal grazed lands of the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape are a testimony to land management processes which have ensured the protection of the succulent Karoo vegetation and thus demonstrates a harmonious interaction between people and nature. Furthermore, the seasonal migrations of graziers between stockposts with traditional demountable mat-roofed houses, |haru oms, reflect a practice that was once much more widespread over Southern Africa, and which has persisted for at least two millennia; the Nama are now its last practitioners.

Criterion (iv): The rich diverse botanical landscape of the Richtersveld, shaped by the pastoral grazing of the Nama, represents and demonstrates a way of life that persisted for many millennia over a considerable part of southern Africa and was a significant stage in the history of this area.

Criterion (v): The Richtersveld is one of the few areas in southern Africa where transhumance pastoralism is still practised; as a cultural landscape it reflects long-standing and persistent traditions of the Nama, the indigenous community. Their seasonal pastoral grazing regimes, which sustain the extensive bio-diversity of the area, were once much more widespread and are now vulnerable.

The cultural landscape comprises all the elements linked to the transhumance lifestyle of the Nama pastoralists. The authenticity of the grazing areas and stockposts is incontrovertible. The authenticity of the traditional domed houses is mainly intact, despite the incorporation of some new materials along with the finely braided traditional mats. There are increasing numbers of young people interested in continuing the traditions.

The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape has full legal protection. The process of declaring the property as a Heritage Area was completed in early 2007. The traditional land-use system of the Nama should be seen as part of the protection system. A buffer zone has been established. The two key areas for conservation measures are sustaining the grazing areas and sustaining the tradition of building portable mat-roofed houses. The Richtersveld Community Conservancy (RCC) is managed by a Communal Property Association (CPA) with a Management Committee (company without profit) and a participative Management Plan is in place to manage the identified Heritage Area. The Management Plan, addresses management structures, infrastructure development, awareness raising, tourism development and monitoring and evaluation. It should provide support to the traditional management system rather than replacing it

4. Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:

     a) Extend the boundary of the nominated area into the south of the Richtersveld National Park where necessary to facilitate sustaining the values of the cultural landscape.

     b) Ensure that the proposed Tourism Plan adequately recognises the vulnerable character of the cultural and natural elements of the property in any future developments and activities.

     c) Develop the proposed Management of Cultural Assets Plan in order to identify effective ways to sustain the grazing traditions of the Conservancy, to give cultural matters an even higher profile in the Management Plan, and to allow grazing and traditional management systems to underpin the management arrangements.

     d) Allocate a sufficient recurring budget for conservation and management of the cultural aspects of the landscape to ensure an appropriate balance between management of the cultural and natural attributes of the Conservancy.

     e) Develop cultural monitoring indicators related to Nama culture and the long standing grazing and house building traditions.

     f) Study in cooperation with the State Party of Namibia the potential to submit an enlarged nomination based on the natural values of the Succulent Karoo.

5.   Further recommends the State Party to consider re-naming the property to distinguish it more clearly from the Richtersveld National Park.

Decision Code
31 COM 8B.20
Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties 1
Decisions adopted at the 31st Session of the World Heritage Committee (Christchurch, 2007)
Context of Decision