1.         Maloti-Drakensberg Park (Lesotho,South Africa) (C/N 985bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2000

Criteria  (i)(iii)(vii)(x)

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/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2014-2018)
Total amount approved: USD 34,792
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

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/985/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 4 December 2018, the States Parties submitted a joint state of conservation report on the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/985/documents/. Several management documents are annexed; some were already submitted as part of the 2016 state of conservation report:

In response to Committee’s decision, the States Parties report the following:

The States Parties report that a permit has been issued for a desktop assessment for shale gas exploration, and an Exploration Right application has been made for gas and oil, both within the property’s proposed buffer zone in South Africa.

On 10 October 2018, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party of South Africa regarding an appeal lodged by the site management authority, the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, on the Environmental Authorisation issued for a petrol filling station in the property’s buffer zone in South Africa. The State Party is currently discussing the matter.

The Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme and the site management authorities, supported by the UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust cooperation, have completed the development of the Community Management of Protected Areas for Conservation (COMPACT) strategies and are fundraising to launch the grant-making programme. The International Assistance project to strengthen the SNP community conservation forum is about to be completed.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies

The States Parties, together with their research and conservation partners, appear to have made significant progress in finalizing and operationalizing management documents and in responding to the Committee’s past requests – most notably in terms of improving the management of cultural heritage, investing in staff training and strengthening the engagement of communities in conservation. The cultural heritage implementation programme 2019-2022 provides an avenue for addressing threats to many of the rock art sites in Lesotho, but initial interventions should focus on addressing immediate vulnerability (such as careful planning of access) prior to approval of conservation interventions by ICOMOS and authorized rock art conservators, in accordance with the ongoing moratorium. The Advisory Bodies shall undertake a technical review of the 2019-2022 programme to assist the State Party of Lesotho in determining implementation priorities.

While acknowledging the work undertaken to develop specific management plans for fire, invasive alien species, sustainable tourism and cultural heritage, it is important to complete the review of the Joint Management Plan as soon as possible, using the Plan as an umbrella to harmonize the increasingly complex management system. Information regarding the implementation of the Joint Management Plan, including its sub-plans would enable better understanding of management effectiveness.

It is positive that the States Parties have completed the work towards establishing a new buffer zone for the property in South Africa south of the SNP, as requested by the Committee (Decision 37 COM 8B.18). It is important to formalize the buffer zone through a request for minor boundary modification in line with Paragraph 164 of the Operational Guidelines as soon as possible.

The proposed shale gas, gas and oil exploration within this newly-proposed buffer zone has potential to affect the OUV of the property and should therefore be subject to Environmental and Heritage Impact Assessments, including a specific assessment of the impacts on OUV, in accordance with the Advisory Bodies’ guidelines, and these assessments should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review. The appeal lodged by the site management authority over the proposed petrol filling station in the buffer zone also raises concern over the compatibility of this project with the conservation and integrity of the property.

The State Party of South Africa’s reaffirmed commitment not to make any decisions before an EIA and HIA for the proposed cableway have been completed and submitted for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies is welcome.

It is further noted that the State Party of Lesotho has not yet completed the Biodiversity Resources Management Bill, which according to the sustainable tourism strategy is planned to be finalized by December 2020. Considering the Committee’s previous view that its completion should be expedited, this is a long delay, and priority should therefore be given to finalize it as soon as possible, and to provide a copy to the World Heritage Centre.

The proposed update to the Statement of OUV has been reviewed by the Advisory Bodies, and is addressed under the Committee Document WHC/19/43.COM/8E.

Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7B.38

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 37 COM 8B.18, 39 COM 7B.33 and 41 COM 7B.38, adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Commends the States Parties on their efforts to improve the management of the property, in particular its cultural values, to invest in staff training and activities to strengthen the engagement of communities in conservation, and encourages the States Parties and their partners to sustain their technical and financial support for these efforts;
  4. Notes the completion of the management documents for fire, invasive alien species, sustainable tourism and cultural heritage, and that the Advisory Bodies will provide a technical review of these plans, and particularly the cultural heritage implementation programme 2019-2022, to assist the States Parties with prioritizing implementation actions;
  5. Reiterates its request to the States Parties to complete the revision of the Joint Management Plan of the property, using it as an umbrella to harmonize the management system, to submit the Plan to the World Heritage Centre for review, and to report on its implementation;
  6. Also notes the completion of the process towards establishing a new buffer zone for the property in South Africa, south of the Sehlabathebe National Park, and also requests the States Parties to formalize the buffer zone as soon as possible through a request for minor boundary modification in line with Paragraph 164 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Acknowledges the preparation of the cultural heritage implementation programme 2019-2022 for Sehlabathebe National Park, and further requests the States Parties to address the immediate vulnerability of the rock art sites, but await the approval by ICOMOS and authorized rock art conservators of conservation interventions, in accordance with the moratorium on non-urgent conservation interventions;
  8. Notes with concern the proposed shale gas, gas and oil exploration within the property’s newly proposed buffer zone in South Africa, which may have negative impacts on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and requests furthermore the State Party of South Africa to submit to the World Heritage Centre an Environmental and Heritage Impact Assessment for these projects, including a specific assessment of the impacts on OUV, in line with IUCN and ICOMOS guidance, before taking any decision that may be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  9. Further notes the concerns and the appeal lodged by the site management authority over the proposed petrol filling station within the property’s buffer zone in South Africa, and requests moreover the State Party of South Africa to address these concerns and report on follow up;
  10. Takes note of the State Party of South Africa’s reiterated commitment to undertake an Environmental and Heritage Impact Assessment for the proposed cableway in South Africa, and to not make any decisions before these assessments are submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  11. Also reiterates its request to the State Party of Lesotho to expedite the finalization of the Biodiversity Resources Management Bill and to submit a copy to the World Heritage Centre;
  12. Finally requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, an updated joint report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2021.

Decision Adopted: 43 COM 8B.55

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/8B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.38 adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Adopts the slightly updated Statement of Outstanding Universal Value of Maloti-Drakensberg Park, Lesotho and South Africa.