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 2014-2023)
Total amount approved: USD 115,738
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), USD 145,000 from the Government of Norway in 2020 for continued COMPACT activities

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 2023

On 1 December 2022, the States Parties submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/985/documents, and reports the following:

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

The State Party of Lesotho completed the Conservation, Monitoring and Risk Assessment of Rock Art in Sehlabathebe National Park project, funded through the International Assistance fund. The report, completed in March 2022, provides an overview of the state of conservation of the rock art located within the Sehlabathebe National Park and includes management recommendations and a risk preparedness plan specifically focused on the conservation of rock art attributes. The need to improve the interpretation of rock art sites remains.

The reiterated commitment by the States Parties to undertake impact assessments for the proposed cableway and shale gas and oil exploratory activities is noted, recalling previous concerns States Parties continue to keep the World Heritage Centre informed of any decision to proceed with these projects.

Recalling the concerns expressed by the management authority in South Africa in previous reports regarding the visual and sense-of-place impacts of the recently constructed petrol filling station in the buffer zone, no information on measures to prevent visual impact was provided and it is recommended that the State Party provides more details on this.

It is positive that the IMP for the uKhahlamba Drakensberg component of the property in South Africa has been completed. The IMP should be assessed through technical review by the Advisory Bodies. It is equally positive that the Biodiversity Resources Management Bill has been approved by the National Assembly in Lesotho. However, noting that the latter still requires further discussion and approval, and recalling that the previous Joint Management Plan for the property is understood to have expired in 2013, and whilst acknowledging the ongoing cooperation between the States Parties, establishing the joint management plan remains a priority. The outcomes of the Conservation, Monitoring and Risk Assessment of Rock Art in Sehlabathebe National Park project should inform the joint management plan. It is recommended that these processes are further expedited in order to establish an integrated management framework for the transboundary property.

The submission of the joint letter signed by both States Parties for a Minor Boundary Modification is acknowledged, however noting that further information is required to complete the submission, it is recommended that all final requirements, including the preparation of the new maps adhering to the technical requirements as addressed during the meeting held between the World Heritage Centre and both State Parties in April 2023, are submitted to the World Heritage Centre.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 7B.101

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 44 COM 7B.170 adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Appreciates the commitment by the State Party of South Africa to undertake Environmental Impact Assessments in line with the Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessments in a World Heritage Context for the proposed cableway in the immediate vicinity of the property and for the proposed oil and gas exploration within the anticipated buffer zone in South Africa, which could impact the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and requests the State Party of South Africa to ensure that their potential impacts on the OUV of the property are assessed in line with the Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessments in a World Heritage Context, and to submit impact assessments to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before making any decisions that may be difficult to reverse, and to continue to keep the World Heritage Centre informed before any such pending decision to proceed is made, in accordance with Paragraphs 118bis and 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  4. Also requests the State Party of South Africa to provide more information on the mitigation measures put in place to avoid any negative impacts, in particular visual impacts, of the operation of the petrol filling station in the buffer zone of the property on the OUV;
  5. Notes with appreciation the completion of the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) for the uKhahlamba Drakensberg component of the property in South Africa, which will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies;
  6. Reiterates its request to the States Parties to urgently complete and submit to the World Heritage Centre for review the revision of the Joint Management Plan of the property, taking on board the outcomes of the Conservation, Monitoring and Risk Assessment of Rock Art in Sehlabathebe National Park project, improving interpretation of rock art, and using it as an umbrella to harmonise the management system, and to report on its implementation;
  7. Takes note of the approval of the Biodiversity Resources Management Bill by the National Assembly of Lesotho and also reiterates its request to the State Party of Lesotho to expedite finalization and to submit a copy to the World Heritage Centre;
  8. Notes the process to propose a minor boundary modification to formalize the buffer zone to the south of the Sehlabathebe National Park in South Africa and further requests the States Parties to submit the fully completed maps, as advised by the World Heritage Centre, so that it can be transferred to the Advisory Bodies for evaluation;
  9. 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.