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Long recognised by geologists as having World Heritage potential, the Barberton-Makhonjwa Mountainlands area was placed on SA’s World Heritage Tentative List by UNESCO in June 2008. This project is spearheaded by the Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation (DCSR) together with Mpumalanga Parks and Tourism Agency (MTPA), Albert Luthuli Municipality and Umjindi Municipality, the latter serving as the implementing agent for the project.  Seed funding was supplied in 2007 by the National Heritage Council (NHC). Core funding has been made available by the Mpumalanga Provincial Government.

The project is widely supported and driven jointly by several provincial and national institutions, inaddition to DCSR, MTPA and the local municipalities, as well as NGOs and scientific organizations. For example:

A consortium of specialists under Barberton’s Concession Creek Consulting has been appointed to complete the required land-use-planning for the WHS Nomination Dossier, which is expected to take two years.  The consultants must carry out all processes and actions necessary to have the site successfully declared as a WHS. When completed BMML WHS will be the first site declared by UNESCO in the Province, taking its place alongside other WHSs in the country e.g. Robben Island in the Western Cape, Isimangaliso Wetlands Park in KZN, Mapungubwe in Limpopo and Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng.

The project’s point of departure is that all the proclaimed Nature Reserves in the target area have been declared as a tentative listed World Heritage Site, registered on South Africa's Tentative List with UNESCO as from June 2008.  This was formally ratified by UNESCO at the request of the Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism (DEAT). The elevated status affords these areas protection in terms of South Africa’s World Heritage Convention Act (No 49 of 1999) until such time as the necessary planning work is completed and full World Heritage Status is conferred.

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