The South African Heritage community has been up in arms over the secret removal of six major heritage sites from the country’s World Heritage Site list. UNESCO documentation of South Africa’s tentative heritage list – which is a list of the sites South Africa proposes should be included under UNESCO protection – dates the removal of these key sites to April 2015. The sites that have been removed are:

– Pilgrim’s Rest Reduction Works Industrial Heritage Site (added in 2004)

– Kimberley Mines and Associated Early Industries (2004)

– Alexandria Coastal Dunefields (2009)

– The Prince Edward Islands (2009)

– The Namaqualand Copper Mining Landscape (2009)

– The Cape Arc of Meridian (2009)

The decision determining sites to include on the tentative list should, according to UNESCO’s provisions, be made in consultation with site managers, local and regional governments, local communities, NGOs and other interested parties. But, for reasons not entirely unclear at the time of publishing, none of these bodies were informed or included in the drafting of this important document.

Jacques Stoltz from the Heritage Monitoring Project considers a number of options that could have influenced this important decision, these range from, “the nominating parties not having the time, resources or technical capability to pursue the nomination process, limited progress with the listing process by the teams working on the nominations or even that the sites may no longer meet the criteria for outstanding universal value”, he said.

Heritage Association of South Africa (SAHA) said, however, that the decision could also see some positive strides for those sites already under protection. Len Raymond, Chairperson of HASA told the Heritage Portal that, “…it may not necessarily be a bad thing as there will be more resources available within the Ministry to guide the teams working on the remaining list of sites. Over the past few years South Africa has been losing steam where it comes to the inscription of new sites – particularly among cultural sites.”

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