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 2023

On 1 December 2022, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/915/documents/. Progress in several conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented in this report, as follows:

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

The completion of the three IMPs for all three components, as well as the IMP Framework (IMPF) for the entire property is welcome. The IMPF and IMPs span 2022-2026 and the IMFP notes that its implementation will be monitored by the Joint Management Committee, which is not yet fully established. This establishment is envisaged for 2022/2023, and the Committee may wish to request the State Party to provide a report on both its implementation as well as making provisions for its timely review in the State Party’s next state of conservation report.

The State Party reports that the STS implemented at the second phase of the Western Basin Treatment Works remains in operation and is successful at managing AMD at the FHSSSKE component. However, it is important that a sustainable LTS is found and implemented with urgency and that the STS remains in place until an LTS is fully operational. The State Party has in the past committed to providing water quality targets as part of the LTS. The Committee may also wish to remind the State Party of its request (Decision 44 COM 7B.121) to submit the design specification and the EIA for LTS for review by the Advisory Bodies prior to implementation. It would also be useful to be provided with a report on the motivation for the selection of the preferred LTS in order to aid in the assessment thereof.

The problem of bacteriological pollution in surface water at the FHSSSKE component persists. In the previous state of conservation reports, the State Party already noted that discussions were taking place to address a major source of this pollution: the Percy Stewart Waste-Water Treatment Works. The State Party is concerned over the impacts of pollution on the attributes of the property negatively. The Committee may wish to request the State Party to urgently address this matter, including through the Memorandum of Understanding with the local municipality, as proposed in the IMP for this component.

The renovation proposals for some of the dilapidated built infrastructure in the so-called ‘Mine Complex’ of the Taung Skull Fossil Site component are welcome in principle. In this context, it should be noted that the 2015 Heritage Impact Assessment recommended that an updated masterplan for the site is essential to guide development and that the renovation of all buildings and infrastructure in the ‘Mine Complex’ should be designed to retain the historic architectural fabric and narrative. It is unclear how the proposed new use will support the historical narrative. More information on this proposal should be submitted and the State Party should again be requested to submit the 2015 Heritage Management plan/s to the World Heritage Centre and refrain from implementing these proposals until they have been reviewed by the Advisory Bodies (Decision 44 COM 7B.121).

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 7B.132

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 44 COM 7B.121 adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Welcomes the completion of the Integrated Management Plans (IMP) for all three components of the property, of the Integrated Management Plan Framework (IMPF), as well as the continued monitoring of the risk reduction and risk prevention interventions at the Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and Environs (FHSSSKE) component;
  4. Notes that the implementation plan of the IMPF and the IMPs for the individual components are planned up to 2026 and requests the State Party to ensure the Joint Management Committee is established and functioning and to provide an interim monitoring report of the implementation of the IMPF, as an annex to its next state of conservation report, so that the efficacy of the IMPF can be assessed;
  5. Also requests the State Party to expedite the development of the Western Basin Treatment Works Long-Term-Solution (LTS), and submit the following: A specialist committee report on the Western Basin Treatment Works LTS at the FHSSSKE component; A report on the choice of the option selected for implementation and the design specification; The design specifications for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for LTS; for review by the Advisory Bodies as soon as these are available and prior to implementation;
  6. Further requests the State Party, with the support from the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, and with urgency and including through a Memorandum of Understanding with the local municipality, to address the function of the Percy Stewart Waste-Water Treatment Works to reduce the instances of bacteriological contamination in the surface water of the FHSSSKE component, and to continue monitoring surface water quality and to provide the Committee with a report thereon;
  7. Reiterates its request to the State Party for the submission to the World Heritage Centre the Heritage Management Plan, along with an updated masterplan and more detailed information on the proposed renovation of these built attributes, including how they support the historical narrative of this component, and await the review of the Advisory Bodies before further implementation;
  8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2024, 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 47th session.