Govt, Vredefort Dome landowners reach agreement

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pretoria - Government and landowners of the Vredefort Dome on Saturday signed a Memorandum of Agreement, taking the site a step closer to becoming a new World Heritage Site and protected under South African law.

The signing of the Memorandum of Agreement will pave the way for the proclamation of the area and appointment of a management authority which will serve as a precursor for the development of an integrated management plan.

The management system will address issues relating to the preservation of archaeological sites, land use management and zoning, pollution and waste management, water resource and fire management.

As part of this management system, tourism development will be ensured in order to support local economic development.

The site has been recognised on the Unesco Heritage list, being described as having "Outstanding universal value to human kind".

The intention to proclaim the site in terms of national legislation was gazetted in December 2007, however, the Vredefort Dome has not yet been proclaimed due to concerns raised by landowners.

Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said they have addressed most of the concerns and established a multi-stakeholder steering committee for coordination purposes.

She said the agreement will give the area a formal status like other sites such as Robben Island, iSimangaliso, Mapungubwe, Cape Floral Region, Richtersveld, uKhahlamba Drakensberg, and the fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa encompassing the Cradle of Humankind, Taung Skull and Makapan Valley.

She added that her department will be embarking on a consultation process towards final proclamation of this area as a World Heritage Site.

"The management authority will be given full powers and resources to manage the area in terms of relevant policies in order to maintain the highest management standards in terms of an integrated management system and ensure full compliance with UNESCO World Heritage prescripts and South Africa's World Heritage Convention Act of 1999," said the minister.