ABI-area assessed as World Heritage Site
The ABI-area was visited by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in early October. The IUCN is assessing sections of the Cape Floral Kingdom in the Overberg district, to look to include it as a World Heritage Site.
The IUCN’s Bastian Bertzky joined CapeNature’s Guy Palmer and Annelise le Roux on a helicopter trip over the Cape Floral Kingdom. The flight started in the Eastern Cape, and included a stop-off at the Agulhas National Park. Here they were met by SANParks officials, as well as representatives from ABI and the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area.
Bertzky is evaluating parks belonging to SANParks and CapeNature in the area to include them as World Heritage Sites. Strong conservation management of the buffer zones to the parks, including the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area, will support the application.
There are currently eight protected areas in the Cape Floral Region that are already included on the World Heritage List, covering an area of 553,000 hectares. These were proclaimed as a World Heritage Site in 2009. However, since then, SANParks, CapeNature and the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency have compiled a joint application to extend the current boundaries.
The IUCN is responsible for evaluating the nominated sites. Currently more than 200 of the world’s most important natural areas have been placed on the list. These sites are recognised as being of Outstanding Universal Value. World Heritage Sites are selected based on the intactness of ecological processes, how likely rare species are to survive in the area, as well as the beauty of the area. There are currently four such sites in South Africa: the Cape Floral Kingdom Protected Areas, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Maloti-Drakensberg Park and the Vredefort Dome.