Tourism boost for Mpumalanga as Barberton Mountains declared WHS

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The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains in Mpumalanga have been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site (WHS).

The World Heritage Committee inscribed the naturally significant Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains after the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee of Unesco, which took place in Manama, Bahrain, at the end of June. Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa represented South Africa at the session.

The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains will be 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 of the world’s best preserved, oldest and diverse sequence of volcanic and sedimentary rock, dating back 3.5 billion years.

The project to conserve the are was started in 2007 and put forward for nomination two years later, reports TourismUpdate.co.za. It is part of efforts to conserve the natural inheritance and to boost tourism in the province, says the Department of Economic Development and Tourism for Mpumalanga in a statement.

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” 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.

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