From a Transfrontier Park to a Transboundary World Heritage Site

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Towards the Establishment of a 26 000ha Community Conservation Area (CCA) Buffering the Transboundary World Heritage Site on the Free State Side.
November 18, 2015

From a Transfrontier Park to a Transboundary World Heritage Site

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In 2006 the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Programme (MDTP) witnessed the declaration, within the TFCA, of the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Park linking the more than 240 000ha Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site on the South African side and the 6 500ha Sehlabathebe National Park on the Lesotho side. This was complemented by the development of the first Joint Management Plan for the Transfrontier Park and the establishment of a Joint Management Committee, with representatives from the two countries, to oversee the implementation of the management plan.

Less than 10 years down the road, the two countries celebrated the inscription, by UNESCO, of the Transfrontier Park as a Transboundary World Heritage Site. In June 2014 UNESCO approved the proposed extension of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site to include the Sehlabathebe National Park. The extension was based on the same biodiversity and cultural values criteria that was the basis for inscribing the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site back then in the year 2000.

In June/July 2015 the Transboundary World Heritage Site faced its first acid test at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Germany when the authorities from the two countries presented its first State of Conservation Report. Whilst the report was fairly well received and approved by the World Heritage Committee, a significant amount of work still needs to be done to meet all the conditions set for the site by the Committee. This includes further identification and documentation of Rock Art Sites on the Sehlabathebe side of the World Heritage Site, development of a joint Cultural Heritage Management Strategy and Plan for the site, upgrading of infrastructure and training of staff, among other things. The government of the Kingdom of Lesotho has however budgeted in excess of R10m to meet some of these requirements and conditions.

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