1.         Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa (South Africa) (C 915bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1999

Criteria  (iii)(vi)

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/915/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/915/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/915/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 2 December 2020, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/915/documents/, which informs of the following progress:

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The efforts made by the State Party towards the conservation of the property are to be commended and encouraged, in particular as regards the continued monitoring of the FHSSSKE component and the process initiated to develop similar risk prevention strategies for other components, the gazette of water quality targets and the extensive ground and surface water quality monitoring results provided for the FHSSSKE component.

Analysis presented in the State Party report indicates that the Acid Mine Discharge (AMD) ‘slug’, spilled into the groundwater system in 2014, is slowly passing through the aquifer system. The STS has seemingly been effective in avoiding any further discharge to date. While it is unfortunate that no progress has been made on developing the LTS as permanent solution to counter the threat of future AMD groundwater contamination, extension of the STS for the interim is deemed sufficient, but only if its capacity is augmented to accommodate high volumes during wet summer rainfall periods. Developing an appropriate LTS, and continuing monitoring and evaluation of both ground and surface water quality and levels, remains of paramount importance. Despite the previously-reported agreement between the site management and the local authority to reduce the high level of bacteriological contamination in the surface and ground water, this remains a problem. The independent water quality monitoring report appended to the State Party’s report indicates that in limited instances measurements from monitoring stations are not regularly updated.

Completion of the Integrated Management Plan and Risk Prevention Strategies for the Taung Skull Fossil site and Makapan Valley components of the property also remains vital. No timelines have been presented for the completion of these Risk Prevention Strategies. All Risk Prevention Strategies, like water level and quality monitoring protocols, need to be embedded in the Integrated Management Plan.

The Committee may wish to reiterate its previous requests on the above matters.

The planned visitors’ facilities and infrastructure upgrades indicate the State Party’s commitment to developing the educational potential of the property. These proposals have been approved by the State Party after being tested through HIA and VIA and based on an approved Heritage Management Plan (HMP). The State Party should submit the assessments and the HMP, for both the Taung Skull Fossil site and the Makapan Valley components, to the World Heritage Centre for review before implementing these projects.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7B.121

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.111, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Commends the State Party for the efforts made towards the conservation of the property, in particular as regards to the continued monitoring of the Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and Environs (FHSSSKE) component and the process initiated to develop similar risk prevention strategies for other components, the gazette of water quality targets and the extensive ground and surface water quality monitoring results provided for the FHSSSKE component, and encourages the State Party to continue efforts in this direction;
  4. Acknowledges the continued implementation and extension of the Short-Term Solution (STS) to prevent a future Acid Mine Discharge event as well as continued water quality monitoring and finalisation of water quality targets, but regrets the limited progress made in developing the required Long-Term Solution (LTS) for the Western Basin Treatment Works, and the requested Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA);
  5. Supports the extension of the STS, but requests the State Party to:
    1. Augment the STS to allow for sufficient capacity to deal with high-rainfall events and submit details of these measures to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies,
    2. Submit the design specification and the EIA for the second phase of the Western Basin Treatment Works (LTS) for review by the Advisory Bodies within the three-year STS extension period and before implementation thereof;
  6. Reiterates its request to the State Party to:
    1. Finalize the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) under preparation in conformity with recommendations of the Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre,
    2. Extend the Risk Prevention Strategy to the Taung Skull Fossil site and the Makapan Valley components of the property and incorporate these into the IMP,
    3. Submit the IMP and Risk Prevention Strategy to the World Heritage Centre for review as soon as possible,
    4. Address the bacteriological pollution from the municipal wastewater effluent on the Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and Environs component of the property;
  7. Also requests the State Party to submit designs and all impact assessments as well as the Heritage Management Plan/s for the visitors’ facilities and infrastructure upgrades at the Taung Skull Fossil site and the Makapan Valley components of the property to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before any further implementation of these projects;
  8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, 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 46th session.