Western Cape’s fynbos boosted by World Heritage Site expansion

Biodiversity conservation in the Western Cape has been given a significant boost as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) approved the extension of the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas (CFRPA) on the World Heritage List.

Anysberg Nature Reserve - South Africa
Anysberg Nature Reserve – South Africa

This approval was granted today by the 39th Session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee currently taking place in the City of Bonn, Germany from 28 June to 08 July 2015.

World Heritage Sites
World Heritage Sites

The CFRPA World Heritage Site was inscribed in 2004 as a natural serial property consisting eight Protected Areas with a total 557,584 ha, but has now been expanded with 163 additional land parcels, all existing Protected Areas, to a total of 1,094,742 ha.

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Says CapeNature CEO, Dr Razeena Omar: “In a province blessed with over 9000 plant species, many of which are endemic to this region, the people of the Western Cape have many reasons to celebrate nature. The approved extension of the CFRPA proves that the province is a successful example of ongoing ecological processes and it contains some of the most important natural habitats for the conservation of biodiversity.”

“The value of World Heritage status is not just about the prestige of managing an area recognised as being of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), but also valuable as it ensures the area will receive appropriate management and the resources required.”

“This selection of protected areas adds up in a synergistic manner to represent the biological richness and evolutionary story of the Cape Floral Region.”

In order to qualify for World Heritage status, the following criteria have been met:

  • be outstanding examples representing significant ongoing ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
  • contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of Outstanding Universal Value from the point of view of science or conservation.

The CFRPA was inscribed on the list of World Heritage Sites in 2004 and in 2008 the extension nomination was initiated between the three management authorities involved, CapeNature, SANParks and the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, under the authority of the Department of Environmental Affairs.

CapeNature’s Scientific Manager for Biodiversity, Guy Palmer, says: “Getting the CFRPA extended has been a long, yet rewarding process thanks to great work from all stakeholders involved. In the CFR there is an excellent foundation of relevant knowledge that has been laid down over many decades by many different individuals and institutions from countries across the globe.”

“A further extension to the CFRPA is also envisaged, hopefully in the not too distant future, when the majority of protected areas not included in this extension will be evaluated for selection.” 

About World Heritage Sites

The concept of WHS was born out of the international realisation that the cultural heritage and natural heritage assets of the world were coming under increasing threat from a wide range of sources.  Countries were not always in a position to manage these assets in a manner that would ensure their persistence in the desired state in the long term.

This resulted in the formulation and ultimately the adoption by UNESCO of the World Heritage Convention on the 16th November 1972.  South Africa ratified this convention on the 10th July 1997 and has to date served two terms on the World Heritage Committee, which consists of 21 member countries, and hosted the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Durban in 2005.  South Africa has also developed and adopted a World Heritage Convention Act 49 of 1999, one of very few countries to have done so.

Table 1: Land areas of complexes representing the inscribed World Heritage Sites and the extension nomination sites and the buffer zones of the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas (CFRPA) World Heritage Site.

Name of the component part  Total area of the component (ha) Area of the Buffer (ha)
CEDERBERG COMPLEXCederberg Complex – Buffer 77 945 (Ext = 12 793) 121 039.75
GROOT WINTERHOEK COMPLEXGroot Winterhoek Complex – Buffer 27 509 (Ext = 703) 103 541.99
TABLE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARKTable Mountain National Park – Buffer 21 630 (Ext = 4 138) 104 254.20
BOLAND MOUNTAIN COMPLEXBoland Mountain Complex – Buffer 124 717 (Ext = 12 070) 79 418.89
HEXRIVIER COMPLEXHexrivier Complex – Buffer 22 641 (Ext = 22 641) 88 248.01
RIVIERSONDEREND NATURE RESERVERiviersonderend Nature Reserve – Buffer 26 630 (Ext = 26 630) 42 626.23
AGULHAS COMPLEXNo buffer 24 159 (Ext = 24 159) 0
DE HOOP NATURE RESERVEDE Hoop Nature Reserve – Buffer 32 481 (Ext = 0) 31 806.27
LANGEBERG COMPLEXLangeberg Complex – Buffer 43 660 (Ext = 29 017) 76 420.35
GARDEN ROUTE COMPLEXGarden Route Complex – Buffer 176 998 (Ext = 176 998) 60 906.95
ANYSBERG NATURE RESERVENo buffer 79 629 (Ext = 79 629) 0
SWARTBERG COMPLEXSwartberg Complex – Buffer 187 337 (Ext = 75 308) 92 295.67
BAVIAANSKLOOF COMPLEXBaviaanskloof Complex – Buffer 249 399 (Ext = 73 068) 808.96
  1 094 742 (Ext = 537 157) 801 367.28
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