The state of the conservation of the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site was under the spotlight as part of the 36TH session of the World Heritage Committee Discussion. The committee met in St Petersburg, Russia, in the last week of June 2012.

South Africa was asked to submit a State of Conservation Report which included the outcome of the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), in respect of the Mapungubwe site according to international best practice.

The HIA was commissioned and concluded in November 2011. Its outcome was shared with and considered by the Joint UNESCO World Heritage Centre/International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Reactive Monitoring Mission in January 2012.

According to the department of environmental affairs the HIA concluded that the controversial mining activity in the area will have no direct impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Property. During the latest discussions by the committee members, some issues were raised.

These included the confusion that exists in relation to the boundaries of the buffer of the inscribed site; the clarification regarding maps that South Africa has submitted to the World Heritage Centre; the proximity of the mining activity to the property; the impact of the mining activity on the Outstanding Universal Value of the site; as well as the jurisdiction of the World Heritage Convention.

The South African delegation clarified the issue of the buffer zone in terms of the properties included in the nomination dossier as forming part of the buffer zone when the site was declared.

The committee has requested South Africa to submit additional information clarifying the site boundaries, including the buffer zone, by no later than 1 February 2013.

The committee also asked the country to ensure that any mining activities do not affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the site.

The department said South Africa remained committed to working with the World Heritage Committee to ensure effective implementation of the Convention, and would cooperate to provide further information as requested.

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