Maloti-Drakensberg Park (Lesotho,South Africa) (C/N 985bis)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2000
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger N/A
Previous Committee Decisions see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/985/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 20,736
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/985/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Total amount granted: USD 50,000 in 2015 through the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism programme (Flanders Funds-in-Trust); USD 40,000 in 2016-2017 for COMPACT community conservation programme (Netherlands Funds-in-Trust)
Previous monitoring missions
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Interpretative and visitation facilities: Need to improve presentation of cultural aspects, in particular the San rock art sites within the Environmental Centre
- Legal framework: Revisions, amendments and enactment of relevant laws pertinent to the property not yet finalized in Lesotho
- Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure, particularly a proposed cable car
- Management activities: Continuation of a cautious approach to conservation interventions on rock art sites (except where rock art would otherwise become very fragile and vulnerable)
- Need for research and documentation to establish an inventory of rock art in Sehlabathebe National Park (issue resolved)
- Need for an assessment of the potential cultural contribution of other landscape elements to the cultural values of Sehlabathebe National Park (issue resolved)
- Management systems/management plan: Need to strengthen the Lesotho heritage management, including adoption of a comprehensive management plan, annual budget allocation, risk preparedness and disaster response plan, monitoring indicators, staff training and transnational collaboration
- The buffer zones surrounding the property are not yet formalized
- Renewable energy facilities: Proposed development of wind farms in areas neighboring the Sehlabathebe National Park (issue resolved)
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/985/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017
In December 2016, the States Parties submitted a joint state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/985/documents/. Progress in a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented, as follows:
- A joint Fire Management Plan has been developed and submitted by the States Parties;
- An Invasive and Alien Species Management Plan has also been developed for the South African component of the property and will be extended to accommodate the Lesotho component too;
- The State Party of Lesotho has submitted the Sehlabathebe National Park Oral History, the Cultural Heritage Management Plan for Sehlabathebe National Park and the Rock Art and Baseline Archaeological Survey of the Sehlabathebe National Park (3 Volumes) to the World Heritage Centre; It has however not yet finalized the proposed Biodiversity Conservation Bill;
- Work to delineate a buffer zone south of Sehlabathebe National Park on the South African side continues. Consultation and engagement with stakeholders including local and provincial authorities is occurring so that integrated Development Plans and the Spatial Development Frameworks will provide for development in the buffer zones to be compatible with the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
- Staff from both Sehlabathebe National Park and the Lesotho Department of Culture have continued to be trained, including on specific programmes as part of the rock art research project carried out by the University of Witwatersrand;
- Consolidation of the Sehlabathebe National Park Cultural Heritage Management Plan and the Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the South African component continues. Risk preparedness and disaster response planning will be incorporated within the joint Cultural Heritage Management Plan, which will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre;
- The State Party of South Africa has developed Terms of reference (ToR) for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) of the proposed cableway, in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment and ICOMOS' Guidance on HIAs for cultural World Heritage properties. Consultation on the ToR has occurred with affected stakeholders and the State Party of Lesotho, but there has been no further progress on this project;
- In addition, through UNESCO’s support, the States Parties are currently finalizing a sustainable tourism strategy for the property, and initiating a community conservation programme.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies
The significant progress achieved through the Rock Art and Baseline Archaeological Survey, based on thorough research and documentation, and the study on the potential cultural contribution of landscape elements, are to be commended. It would be appropriate for this work to be reflected in an updated statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) for the property, as originally envisaged, and in the revised Maloti-Drakensberg Joint Management Plan.
Recognizing that substantial progress has been made with the training of staff, particularly through the above-mentioned rock art project, there is an ongoing need to build adequate capacity within the State Party of Lesotho to instigate a programme for the implementation of the outcomes and recommendations from this research and inventory work. In the meantime, the moratorium on non-urgent conservation interventions at the rock art sites should continue.
The high priority given to the development of the Biodiversity Conservation Bill (previously called the Biodiversity Resources Management Bill) was welcomed by the Committee in Decision
39 COM 7B.33, but is yet to be completed. It is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party of Lesotho to expedite the development of this bill as a pressing matter.
Progress in the development of integrated management plans for fire, invasive alien species and cultural heritage, as well as stated provision of resources for their implementation is appreciated. However, recalling that the joint Management Plan for the property expired in 2013, and that the Committee had requested the States Parties to update it by addressing fire and invasive alien species (IAS) amongst others, it is unclear whether the joint Management Plan for the property has now been completed as a separate document to the fire, IAS and cultural heritage management plans. Should they now be developed as separate documents, it is recommended that the Committee request the States Parties to also submit the updated overall Maloti-Drakensberg Joint Management Plan, which considers management from both the natural and cultural perspectives, and the fire, IAS and cultural heritage management plans to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies as soon as they are available.
It is appreciated that a sustainable tourism strategy for the property is currently being finalised and that a community conservation programme will be initiated. It is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to conduct the necessary stakeholder consultations to finalize them, and carefully align each document with the overall management framework mentioned above. Similarly, on-going efforts to delineate the buffer zone in South Africa through a consultation process are noted. Recalling that local communities were consulted in the earlier stages, it is important that they continue to be involved in the decision-making processes and that progress is communicated in a transparent and fully inclusive manner.
The confirmed commitment of the State Party of South Africa to evaluate the potential impacts of the proposed cableway project, in line with the guidelines of IUCN and ICOMOS, is noted. It is important that the EIA and the HIA be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies as soon as they are available, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.38
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decisions 37 COM 8B.18 and 39 COM 7B.33, adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), and 39th (Bonn, 2015) sessions respectively,
- Notes the reported progress by the States Parties on:
- Preparation of a joint Fire Management Plan and an integrated Invasive and Alien Species (IAS) Management Plan,
- Completion of the Sehlabathebe National Park Oral History, the Cultural Heritage Management Plan for Sehlabathebe National Park and the Rock Art and Baseline Archaeological Survey of the Sehlabathebe National Park,
- Progress with staff training and the development of a joint Cultural Heritage Management Plan,
- Finalization of a sustainable tourism strategy and initiation of a community conservation programme;
- Requests the States Parties to complete the above-mentioned documents through appropriate stakeholder consultations, to carefully align them with the revised Maloti-Drakensberg Joint Management Plan for the property, and to submit all documents to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies.
- Welcomes the continuing transnational collaboration and efforts towards establishment of a buffer zone to the south of Sehlabathebe National Park, and reiterates its request to the States Parties to continue involving the local communities, and to submit to the World Heritage Centre a minor boundary modification to recognize the buffer zones, as soon as they have been formalized;
- Commends the State Party of Lesotho for preparing the Rock Art and Baseline Archaeological Survey and the study on the potential cultural contribution of landscape elements and also requests the State Party of Lesotho to prepare and submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, a programme for implementation of the recommendations of the Rock Art and Baseline Archaeological Survey;
- Further requests the States Parties to review the findings of these surveys, with a view to refining the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) for the property and incorporating this information into the above-mentioned revised Joint Management Plan;
- Encourages the State Party of Lesotho to continue with and further expand the training of staff within the Sehlabathebe management base and to expedite the development of the Biodiversity Resources Management Bill, and requests it furthermore to provide a copy of this Bill to the World Heritage Centre, as soon as it is approved;
- Also reiterates its request to the States Parties that the moratorium on non-urgent conservation interventions at the rock art sites is continued, pending completion of staff training and instigation of a programme for implementation of the recommendations of the Rock Art and Baseline Archaeological Survey;
- Also notes the State Party of South Africa’s renewed commitment to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed cableway, including a detailed Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), in accordance with the guidelines of IUCN and ICOMOS and further reiterates its request to the State Party of South Africa to submit the completed assessments, with a specific section focusing on the potential impact of the cableway project on the OUV, to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
- Finally requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2018, a joint 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 43rd session in 2019.