New heritage sites inscribed by World Heritage Committee

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 02 August 2010

The cultural arm of the United Nations, Unesco, on Saturday established new World Heritage sites in Sri Lanka and Hawaii, while adding an existing natural heritage site in Tanzania to the world’s list of cultural treasures.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area contains fossil evidence of nearly 4 million years of human evolution

Meeting in Brasilia, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) voted to make Sri Lanka’s central highlands a natural heritage site. The high-altitude region is considered a super biodiversity hotspot.

The Papahanaumokuakea island chain of tiny islands and atolls, stretching nearly 2 000km north-west of the main Hawaiian Islands of the US, was declared both a natural and cultural heritage site.

The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is one of the world’s largest marine protected areas, while the region is considered to be the origin of life in native Hawaiian beliefs.

Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which has been on the list of natural treasures since 1979, was added to the cultural heritage list, too.

Including the world-famous Serengeti National Park and Olduvai Gorge, scene of some of the most important finds in pre-human anthropology, Ngorongoro holds an “extraordinary record of human evolution,” Unesco’s World Heritage Committee said. Continue reading

Mapungubwe coal mining licence granted

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems
04 February 2010

The future of the Mapungubwe transfrontier park in Limpopo is in the balance, after government approved mining rights in the area to Australian mining group CoAL Africa.

The Mapungubwe World Heritage Site

CoAL Africa announced on Tuesday it was awarded a licence by the deparment of minerals to set up an opencast coal mine and a power station, called Vele coal mine/Mulilo power station, in the buffer zone of the ecologically sensitive and culturally valuable Mapungubwe.

The park borders on Botswana and Zimbabwe. It is also a transfrontier park – the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (with Botswana and Zimbabwe) – and has been officially recognised as a World Heritage site by Unesco.

Park employees said the mine and power station will change the region’s official land use (as agreed and signed by various representative ministers during the trilateral memorandum of agreement in 2006) from conservation to industrial.

“We have been caught completely offside by this,” said Johan Verhoef, the international coordinator for the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Park.

According to Verhoef, the Australian company does not have a water licence.

“The region is very dry, and the ecology here is very sensitive. The mine will therefore have a negative impact,” Verhoef said.

“The intention was to set up a treaty between South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe this year, but with government having granted the mining licence the future looks bleak,” Verhoef said.

Department of minerals spokesperson Jeremy Michaels said he was aware of the matter, but could not respond to questions immediately.

Read: Minister concerned about mining near Mapungubwe 20 Feb 2010

Russian Paper Mill Threatens Lake Baikal

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems
20 January 2010

In order to preserve jobs Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin issued a new decree that will allow the discharge of sewage waters into Lake Baikal, and for the storage and disposal of hazardous waste on the lake’s shores.

Lake Baikal. © Andrey Maximov / WWF Russia

Russia has opted to reopen a notoriously polluting paper mill situated in Baikalsk (Irkutsk region), on the South-Western shore of Lake Baikal, reversing long-time protections to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The resumption of work “….will mean that Russia violates its obligations as one of the signatory party of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention” said Igor Chestin, WWF Russia Director. “The new resolution weakens the protection level of the World Natural Heritage site”.

The 3.15-million-ha Lake Baikal in Siberia is the oldest and deepest lake in the world, according to UNESCO’s website. It contains 20 percent of the world’s total unfrozen freshwater reserve. Lake Baikal first received UNESCO designation in 1996.

Russian environmental organizations, including Greenpeace and WWF, have demanded that the government cancel the resolution. Environmentalists have also addressed The World Heritage Centre of UNESCO with a request to raise the Baikal problem at the soonest session of the UNESCO Committee.

Read full article: WWF