Barberton Mountains declared a World Heritage Site

Barberton Mountains declared a World Heritage Site

The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains in Mpumalanga have officially been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site (WHS) after being on the tentative list for a number of years.

The World Heritage Committee inscribed the naturally significant Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains on Monday (July 2), after the decision was taken at the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee of Unesco, which took place in Manama, Bahrain, from June 29-30, where Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa represented South Africa.

This marks the tenth site in South Africa to be inscribed by the world heritage body since the country became a member in 1997.

The mountain range lies within the sub-tropical lowland region in the north-east of South Africa, containing some the world’s best preserved, oldest and diverse sequence of volcanic and sedimentary rock, dating back 3.5 billion years.

The project was initiated back in 2007 and put forward for nomination two years later as part of the efforts to conserve the natural inheritance and to boost tourism in the province, according to the Department of Economic Development and Tourism for Mpumalanga.

The MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism for the region, Sikhumbuzo Kholwane, said the government would continue to provide resources to maintain the status of this unparalleled mountain range in order to boost tourism.

“The human resource structure of the Management Authority has been expanded to include a new unit led by a senior geologist and a complement of support staff, totalling eight persons. The Government has also committed to support the new unit with an additional US$1 million per year, to fund the Management Authority staff and operations”, said Kholwane.

According to Tony Ferrar, Wildlife Ecologist and Park Planner, it has been 30 years since geo professionals first stated that the mountains deserved WHS status.

Ferrar said being part of the WHS branding would be good for tourism, attracting both state and private-sector investment.

“The additional challenge of developing geological tourism will make it even more interesting, as it is quite a specialised field,” added Ferrar.

Tiffany Briggs, Head of Marketing for Mfafa Safaris said: “We have been looking forward to this declaration for a while now, and Barberton Tourism has been pushing hard for it. They have already put up information boards in the area, and it is really quite something to behold.”

“It is an exciting new element to add to travel in the Kruger Lowveld region – it is also an exciting alternative to the usual Panorama Route, giving people another reason to come back again and hopefully spend money in new areas that are in dire need of it.”

Kholwane said the inscription of the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains would be a constant reminder of the value of nature and its connection to the people. “We have been afforded a single most compelling reason to preserve all natural endowments so that future generations can also experience the connection that we have with our mountains, our wetland and many other unique geological inheritances found in the province.”

Tourism to get a boost with the inscription of the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains as a World Heritage Site.


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