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Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape

South Africa
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Industrial areas
  • Management activities
  • Mining
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of a proper buffer zone (issue resolved)
  • Lack of a management plan (issue resolved)
  • Mining activities
  • Development pressure
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2016**

November 2010 and January 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre/ ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring missions

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 3 February 2016, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1099/documents/, and presents progress in a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions, as follows:

  • Within the new buffer zone, which includes the eastward extension adopted by the Committee in 2014 (Decision 38 COM 8B.48), the Department of Mineral Resources has published a Letter of Intention to tightly control the processing of existing mining rights and prohibiting further prospecting licenses (annexed to the report);
  • The Biodiversity Offset Agreement for Vele Colliery between the management authority and the mining company has entered into force (annexed to the report);
  • The approved Integrated Management Plan (IMP) was submitted to the World Heritage Centre on 7 May 2013. Sufficient human resources have been secured at the management authority and key parts of the plan are being implemented: archaeological database and monitoring schedule of archaeological sites have been established, and a Collections Management policy has been developed relating to the archaeological collections dispersed from the property;
  • Significant conservation work has been carried out at K2 (an archaeological site of Leopard's Kopje culture), including removal of dead trees, stabilization of the slopes of the excavation pit, work to reduce erosion on the excavation mounds, and reassessments of the site;
  • The Venetia Diamond Mine, which is now outside of the buffer zone of the property, is converting from an open pit mine to an underground operation within the existing mining footprint of the mine. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) of the proposals have been provided. These indicate that the proposed changes should reduce its environmental footprint. The project will require some additional infrastructure to be constructed but these will be within the current mine boundaries;
  • The current water infrastructure in the north of the property that serves the mine by pumping water from the Limpopo River will be maintained, but visual impacts have been reduced through a rehabilitation project (annexed to the State Party report) as recommended by the HIA;
  • Detailed field and desk studies have been undertaken on archaeological sites in and around the Venetia mine area, and show that the sites probably date back to Iron Age but have low value. Some of these sites may require excavating in advance of development work and this has been planned for. Monitoring and mitigation reports of the archaeological sites are annexed to the State Party report;
  • An Environmental Management Framework has been developed for the site in 2014, and was submitted to the World Heritage Centre on 15 April 2016.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

Considering the information provided by the State Party, it is recommended that the Committee commend it on issuing a notice that tightly controls the processing of existing mining rights and prohibits further prospecting licenses in the buffer zone. These restrictions as well as the Environmental Management Framework provide a comprehensive mechanism to manage the buffer zone.

While acknowledging the implementation of some key parts of the IMP, it is important to note the concerns raised on the draft Management Plan in the 2013 state of conservation report (https://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/1889). These include the need for clarity on the development mentioned in the Plan, on the borders of the park, of a projected power station and a coal/gas field north of the Soutpansberg that is said to “change the character of the landscape in and around the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape (MCL).”

The conservation work carried out at K2 is noted, but the State Party report provides no details on the condition surveys, how the work was carried out, who carried it out, or how it was documented. Further details are needed on the implementation of the work, including the overall rehabilitation programme of the State Party at the site in order to assess progress to respond to the Committee’s Decision 36 COM 7B.48, which urged the State Party to protect, conserve and consolidate the archaeological evidence on the property and particularly at the K2 site, which the 2012 mission reported to be seriously deteriorated.

The proposed extension of the Venetia Diamond mine from open pit to underground operation is noted. Although it will require additional infrastructure, this will be within the footprint of the existing mine. Impact assessments have indicated that this would provide benefits relating to reduced waste, water demand, noise levels, dust pollution, and surface land disturbance.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.19
Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape (South Africa) (C 1099bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.48, 37 COM 7B.43 and 38 COM 8B.48, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions respectively;
  3. Commends the State Party for the development of the Environmental Management Framework and measures adopted to control the processing of existing mining rights and to prohibit further prospecting licenses in the new buffer zone;
  4. Notes that the proposed extension of the Venetia Diamond mine from open pit to underground operation will require additional infrastructure within the footprint of the existing mine, that impact assessments have indicated that the change of process should reduce the environmental impacts of the mine, and that the water infrastructure arrangements within the property will be mitigated, and requests the State Party to continue regular monitoring of the mine activities;
  5. Acknowledges that key parts of the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) are being implemented, and also acknowledges that the State Party has clarified that there are no proposals for a projected power station and a coal/gas field north of the Soutpansberg as mentioned in the IMP;
  6. Also notes that some work has been undertaken on stabilizing the K2 archaeological site, and further notes that, on 11 July 2016, the State Party has submitted to the World Heritage Centre new material on progress with the development of the conservation plans for all the archaeological sites and a programme to address the serious deterioration reported by the 2012 mission, in line with Decision 36 COM 7B.48 and that this material will be reviewed by ICOMOS;
  7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7B.19

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.48, 37 COM 7B.43 and 38 COM 8B.48, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions respectively;
  3. Commends the State Party for the development of the Environmental Management Framework and measures adopted to control the processing of existing mining rights and to prohibit further prospecting licenses in the new buffer zone;
  4. Notes that the proposed extension of the Venetia Diamond mine from open pit to underground operation will require additional infrastructure within the footprint of the existing mine, that impact assessments have indicated that the change of process should reduce the environmental impacts of the mine, and that the water infrastructure arrangements within the property will be mitigated, and requests the State Party to continue regular monitoring of the mine activities;
  5. Acknowledges that key parts of the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) are being implemented, and also requests the State Party to clarify the concerns already raised in the 2013 state of conservation report related to a projected power station and a coal/gas field north of the Soutpansberg;
  6. Also notes that some work has been undertaken at the K2 archaeological site, and urges the State Party to provide details of condition surveys, a rehabilitation programme, and a timescale for its implementation to the World Heritage Centre, to address the serious deterioration reported by the 2012 mission, in line with Decision 36 COM 7B.48;
  7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Report year: 2016
South Africa
Date of Inscription: 2003
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)(v)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2016) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 40COM (2016)
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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