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Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa

South Africa
Factors affecting the property in 2015*
  • Ground water pollution
  • Mining
  • Surface water pollution
  • Other Threats:

    Acid mine drainage

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Ground water pollution
  • Mining
  • Surface water pollution
  • Acid mine drainage
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2015
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2015**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

On 27 January 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/915/documents/.  Progress in a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous session is presented in the report as follows:

  • The mine water risk has largely been contained through the implementation of immediate and short-term mine water control and management measures in accordance with recommendations made by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on acid mine drainage (AMD);
  • The establishment of an Inter-Governmental Task Team (IGTT) to coordinate the water (surface, groundwater and mine) management, which is chaired by a representative from the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). The property’s management authority is also represented on the IGTT.
  • The IGTT has taken responsibility for the management of mine water rising in the Western Basin upstream from the property and initial measures have been undertaken to improve the mine water treatment plant.
  • A three year research project has recently been completed, which aims to understand the impact of AMD on the water resources environment.
  • Water resources across the property are monitored and reported on every six months and are stored in the National Groundwater Archive. They contain data on precipitation, surface water resources, mine water and ground water. The results are reviewed by the IGTT.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2015

The State Party has responded to all the matters raised by the World Heritage Committee and has supplied information on the property’s ongoing protection.

Though the IGTT and DWS are the two key bodies responsible for the water management, there are a number of other agencies mentioned in the state of conservation report who have a role in managing and monitoring the water issues. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide further details identifying each agency’s roles and responsibilities for the water management at the property and the reporting structure.

Initial measures have been undertaken to improve the mine water treatment plant. Although these measures have mitigated some of the adverse impacts in the downstream aquatic environment, the plant still remains inadequate to control the volume of decant generated in exceptionally wet summer rainfall seasons. This limitation is being assessed by the second phase of the Western Basin works currently underway, which is increasing the capacity of the treatment facility and the construction of a new pump-station. Further clarification on the design specifications for this phase of works are needed to assess how this project will result in the significant mitigation of the raw mine water threat to the receiving environment. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to carry-out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and submit it to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies.

The monitoring programmes and systems that the State Party has developed and implemented are having a positive impact on the mitigation of AMD and ground water and surface water pollution. However, it is unclear if the quality values reported relate to treated or untreated mine water, what the monitoring time frames are and how the results shall be disseminated (e.g. annual reports, web base, etc.).

Only a small portion of the property, located in the south-western portion, remains at risk from the impact of AMD and municipal wastewater effluent. The State Party is encouraged to implement a programme to address this area at risk from AMD.

The State Party does not provide any discussion on the effects of climate change on the property. It is recommended that the State Party consider if climate change is a factor that may impact on the property. Another factor that should be taken into consideration is the potential impact of AMD on the pipes that supply drinking water to Johannesburg in the event that this infrastructure fails. The State Party should develop a contingency plan to manage such an event.

In light of the progress made by the State Party, it is considered that the main concerns of the World Heritage Committee are currently being addressed. It is therefore recommended that the Committee commend the State Party on activities so far undertaken to improve water management on the property and encourage it to continue with the implementation of all relevant measures and projects.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2015
39 COM 7B.44
Fossil hominids sites of South Africa (South Africa) (C 915bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision COM 7B.44 adopted as its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Commends the State Party on activities so far undertaken to improve water management on the property, and encourages it to continue with the implementation of all relevant measures and projects;
  4. Also commends the State Party for the measures so far undertaken to implement systems and programmes to mitigate the impacts of acid mining drainage on the property, and also encourages the State Party to sustain these efforts;
  5. Requests the State Party to:
    1. provide additional information on the management framework for the property including identifying each agency’s roles and responsibilities for the water management of the property and the reporting structure,
    2. provide further clarification on the design specifications for the second phase of the western basin works;
    3. undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), on the second phase of works on the Western Basin mine water treatment plant for submission to the World Heritage Centre and review by the Advisory Bodies,
    4. provide additional information on the water management monitoring programme, specifically on the definition of water quality targets and associated monitoring time frames and the dissemination of information,
    5. develop a programme to mitigate the risks from the impact of acid mine drainage and municipal wastewater effluent for the south-western portion of the property still at risk from these factors;
  6. Also requests the State Party to consider external factors, such as climate change and leakage from drinking water supplies, in its ongoing water management for the property;
  7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Draft Decision: 39 COM 7B.44

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision COM 7B.44 adopted as its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Commends the State Party on activities so far undertaken to improve water management on the property, and encourages it to continue with the implementation of all relevant measures and projects;
  4. Also commends the State Party for the measures so far undertaken to implement systems and programmes to mitigate the impacts of acid mining drainage on the property, and also encourages the State Party to sustain these efforts;
  5. Requests the State Party to:
    1. provide additional information on the management framework for the property including identifying each agency’s roles and responsibilities for the water management of the property and the reporting structure,
    2. provide further clarification on the design specifications for the second phase of the western basin works;
    3. undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), on the second phase of works on the Western Basin mine water treatment plant for submission to the World Heritage Centre and review by the Advisory Bodies,
    4. provide additional information on the water management monitoring programme, specifically on the definition of water quality targets and associated monitoring time frames and the dissemination of information,
    5. develop a programme to mitigate the risks from the impact of acid mine drainage and municipal wastewater effluent for the south-western portion of the property still at risk from these factors;
  6. Also requests the State Party to consider external factors, such as climate change and leakage from drinking water supplies, in its ongoing water management for the property;
  7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Report year: 2015
South Africa
Date of Inscription: 1999
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2015) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 39COM (2015)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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