The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains in Mpumalanga, South Africa, have been officially added to the World Heritage Site List. The decision was taken by the 42nd United Nations Educational‚ Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee‚ meeting in Bahrain.
Situated in northeastern South Africa, the site is one of the world’s oldest geological structures, with volcanic and sedimentary rock dating back 3.6 to 3.25 billion years – around the time when the first continents were starting to form on the primitive Earth.
Also referred to as the ‘Genesis of Life’, its geology includes the best preserved ancient rocks on Earth. The mountains are also believed to contain the oldest signs of life‚ with a micro fossil of bacteria discovered there that is estimated to be 3.1 billion years old.
Sites that are deemed World Heritage Sites are recognised as having global historical or environmental significance‚ may signify a phenomenal achievement of humanity‚ or reveal ancient civilisations. The recognition allows the country to access funds for conservation from the World Heritage Fund and may increase tourism to the area. To be accepted onto the list‚ a country must meet stringent criteria and show how the site will be conserved.
This is South Africa’s 10th World Heritage Site, while last year the ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape became the country’s 9th site. Other sites in South Africa include the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Robben Island, the Cradle of Humankind, Maloti-Drakensberg Park, Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, the Cape Floral Region, the Vredefort Dome and Richtersveld.
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