|Overview : |
The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape World Heritage Site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2007 at the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), on the basis of the cultural criteria (iv) and (v).
The Statement of Outstanding Universal Value for the RWHS is as follows: The 160,000 ha Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape of dramatic mountainous desert in north-western South Africa constitutes a cultural landscape communally owned and managed. This site sustains the semi-nomadic pastoral livelihood of the Nama people, reflecting seasonal patterns that may have persisted for as much as two millennia in Southern Africa. It is the only area where the Nama still construct portable rush-mat houses (haru om) and includes seasonal migrations and grazing grounds, together with stock posts. The pastoralists collect medicinal and other plants and have a strong oral tradition associated with different places and attributes of the landscape.
One of the fundamental requirements for all World Heritage Sites as per the World Heritage Convention Act (1999) is to develop and implement an Integrated Management Plan (IMP). The Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention (UNESCO,2019) as well as the World Heritage Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972), states that “Each nominated property should have an appropriate Management Plan or other documented management system which should specify how the outstanding universal value of a property should be preserved, preferably through participatory means”.
Specifically, with respect to the RWHS, the World Heritage Committee recommended on its Inscription Decision: 31 COM 8B.20, that:
- The State Party ensures the proposed tourism plan adequately recognises the vulnerable character of the cultural and natural elements of the property in any future developments and activities.
- The State Party develops the proposed management of Cultural Assets Plan in order to identify effective ways to sustain the grazing traditions of the Conservancy, to give cultural matters an
d even higher profile in the Management Plan, and to allow grazing and traditional management systems to underpin the management arrangements.
- The State Party allocates sufficient recurring budget for the conservation and management of the cultural aspects of the landscape to ensure an appropriate balance between management of the cultural and natural attributes of the Conservancy.
Additionally, South Africa’s World Heritage Convention Act (1999) stipulates that “Every Authority must prepare and implement an integrated management plan for the World Heritage Site under its control”… and that “an Authority must conduct its affairs in accordance with an Integrated Management Plan”.
A draft IMP was developed in 2009, however this was never formally adopted nor implemented. Hence neither the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and National requirements for an IMP nor the above World Heritage Committee recommendations Decision : 31 COM 8B.20 have been fulfilled to date.
The Northern Cape Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (NC-DSAC) delegated the management function of the site to the Richtersveld Sida!Hub Community Property Association (CPA). The RWHS CPA includes the communities of Lekkersing, Eksteenfontein, Kuboes and Sanddrift. The CPA in turn established the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Association NPC which has been managing the site for the past 13 years.
There has been a significant amount of consultation with the communities, numerous studies and various government and donor projects conducted over the last two decades to try and initiate livelihood development and adequate management of the area. An outcome of some of this work has been the development of the Richtersveld World Heritage Site Proposal in 2016 (also referred to as the Tourism Infrastructure Project Proposal) for which a Tourism Infrastructure Economic Feasibility Study has recently been completed (2020).