Maloti-Drakensberg Park

Country
Lesotho,
South Africa
Inscribed in
2000
Criteria
(i)
(iii)
(vii)
(x)
The conservation outlook for this site has been assessed as "significant concern" in the latest assessment cycle. Explore the Conservation Outlook Assessment for the site below. You have the option to access the summary, or the detailed assessment.

The Maloti-Drakensberg Park is a transboundary site composed of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg National Park in South Africa and the Sehlathebe National Park in Lesotho. The site has exceptional natural beauty in its soaring basaltic buttresses, incisive dramatic cutbacks, and golden sandstone ramparts as well as visually spectacular sculptured arches, caves, cliffs, pillars and rock pools. The site's diversity of habitats protects a high level of endemic and globally important plants. The site harbors endangered species such as the Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) and the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus). Lesotho’s Sehlabathebe National Park also harbors the Maloti minnow (Pseudobarbus quathlambae), a critically endangered fish species only found in this park. This spectacular natural site contains many caves and rock-shelters with the largest and most concentrated group of paintings in Africa south of the Sahara. They represent the spiritual life of the San people, who lived in this area over a period of 4,000 years.
© UNESCO

© IUCN/Elena Osipova

Summary

2020 Conservation Outlook

Finalised on
01 Dec 2020
Significant concern
The conservation outlook for Maloti-Drakensberg Park is of significant concern. The EKZNW management staff are highly dedicated and experienced and there is also significant appreciation for the values of the Maloti Drakensberg by communities living nearby as evidenced, for example, by the vehemently strong opposition to the possibility of oil and gas exploration in the area. However, the over-arching concern stems from dwindling financial resources and an increasing dependence on external funding to carry out core conservation activities in the site. The prevalence of frequent fires in the upper reaches and the vulnerability of the lower reaches to invasive alien plant establishment are seriously compromising the sites capacity to secure the biodiversity values, while the value of scenic splendor is being impacted on by settlement and livestock encroachment from the outside.

Current state and trend of VALUES

High Concern
Trend
Deteriorating
There are a number of significant internal and external threats which are working against the integrity of the site and the Management Authority's capacity to address them. Frequent fire in the upper reaches compromises the implementation of a scientifically based fire management regime, the spread of invasive alien plants in the lower reaches, the increasing vulnerability of these areas to this spread and the lack of funds to address these dynamics is of high concern. Besides laudable efforts to establish the buffer zone and the review of the Joint Management Plan, external dynamics of increasing settlement growth and livestock grazing continue to make the site increasingly more isolated is of growing concern in some instances.

Overall THREATS

High Threat
The most significant threats to the biodiversity values of the site are from too high burning frequency (particularly at high altitudes), the spread of invasive alien plant species at the lower altitudes (particularly American Bramble (Rubus cuneifolius)) and the encroachment and overgrazing by livestock. These pose a serious threat to the outstanding biodiversity and scenic values. Although other threats are low, threats to the scenic values are also from outside the core area within the buffer zone. Possible developments near the site (e.g. wind farms) could have severe impacts on its values. Potential impacts of climate change on sensitive grassland and wetland species are anticipated along side industrial activity outside the boundaries of the site, if their negative impacts on the site's values are not fully considered.

Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT

Some Concern
This transboundary site consists of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park (UDP) managed in accordance with an Integrated Management Plan and the Sehlabathebe National Park (SNP) in Lesotho. The management capacity of the latter is currently rather limited and the Joint Management Committee could help share and build capacity in Lesotho. However, challenges faced by the Management Authority of the UDP in terms of inadequate financial resources limits its capacity to implement effective management as well which will impinge on its capacity to support the SNP. EKZNW is progressively losing its capacity to manage the site effectively with large recurrent budget reductions leaving significantly reduced allocations for operational expenditure. While the conservation staff, who implement a hierarchy of integrated management plans and procedures to safeguard the biodiversity values of the site are well trained, much institutional memory has been lost and low operational budgets prevent key activities from being implemented on a consistent basis. Much progress has been made in defining and identifying appropriate and inappropriate developments within the buffer zone and a public consultation has been held along with the recent development of a number of management plans for specific issues including invasive species and tourism management. However, progress to have the buffer zone formally recognised have not been completed and the level of threat from negative external dynamics such as encroachment of settlements and livestock grazing are increasing.

Full assessment

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Finalised on
01 Dec 2020

Description of values

Outstanding scenic value expressed by the topographic variation, geology and vegetation

Criterion
(vii)
The outstanding scenic value is expressed largely by the topographic variation, geology and vegetation. The Drakensberg Mountains have high escarpment walls of dark basalt that lie above a high layer of golden clarens sandstone. Soaring basaltic buttresses, incisive dramatic cutbacks and golden sandstone ramparts all contribute to a spectacular environment. Rolling high altitude grasslands, the pristine steep-sided river valleys and rocky gorges also contribute to the beauty of the site (World Heritage Committee, 2014).

Outstanding plant species richness

Criterion
(x)
It has outstanding species richness, particularly of plants. It is recognised as a Global Centre of Plant Diversity and endemism, and occurs within its own floristic region – the Drakensberg Alpine Region of South Africa (World Heritage Committee, 2014). At the time of inscription of the South African part of this transboundary site, a total of 2,153 species of plants were described in Drakensberg Park, including a large number of internationally and nationally threatened species. A significant feature is the high level of plant species endemism. (IUCN, 2000). In Lesotho, Sehlabathebe National Park hosts 515 plant species, 59 of which are endemic to the park (IUCN, 2013).

Large number of endemic and globally threatened bird species

Criterion
(x)
The site’s diversity of habitats protects a high level of endemic and globally threatened bird species. It is also within a globally important endemic bird area and is notable for the occurrence of a number of globally threatened species, such as the Yellow-breasted Pipit (Hemimacronyx chloris),  the Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) and the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus). (World Heritage Committee, 2014). The avifauna of the Drakensberg Park included 296 species at the time of its inscription (IUCN, 2000). At the time of the extension of the site to Lesotho, between 106 and 117 bird species, according to different records, were reported in the Sehlabathebe National Park (IUCN, 2013).
Paleo-invertebrate, reptile and mammal species
Little is known about the many endemic paleo-invertebrates, particularly those species that inhabit the high altitude vegetation communities. Reptile fauna is also poorly understood although with relatively high diversity. Large mammals are well known but the diverse small mammal fauna is also poorly known.

Assessment information

High Threat
The most significant threats to the biodiversity values of the site are from too high burning frequency (particularly at high altitudes), the spread of invasive alien plant species at the lower altitudes (particularly American Bramble (Rubus cuneifolius)) and the encroachment and overgrazing by livestock. These pose a serious threat to the outstanding biodiversity and scenic values. Although other threats are low, threats to the scenic values are also from outside the core area within the buffer zone.
Utility / Service Lines
(Powerlines being constructed in rural areas east of the property)
Low Threat
Outside site
Collisions between raptors including vulture species and other large birds with powerlines has an adverse impact on the viability of the various species populations. Mitigation measures are essential (Karssing et al., 2012; Short et al., 2003; O’Connor, 2008; Kruger, 2005).
Forestry/ Wood production
(Forestry projects in the buffer zone)
Low Threat
Outside site
A land reform development with forestry projects is taking place in an adjacent municipal area. The development is outside the World Heritage site but within its buffer zone and therefore may have a visual impact (Forster et al., 2007). This land use transforms the natural land cover adjacent to the Park and increases the island effect and the vulnerability of important species. These forestry developments also increase the disturbance and hence facilitate the spread of invasive alien plants.
Flight Paths
(Commercial flight paths and tourism helicopter flights)
Low Threat
Inside site
, Localised(<5%)
Outside site
Sound pollution, particularly form overhead commercial flight paths, affects the scenic values of the site and wilderness experience of some visitors and therefore (Forster et al., 2007). In addition, tourism operators offer helicopter flights over the escaprment very close to the site. Such helicopter activities pose a threat to both Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) and the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) (KPDH, 2016).
Fire/ Fire Suppression
(High burning frequency resulting from illegal/ accidental fires)
High Threat
Inside site
, Widespread(15-50%)
Outside site
High altitude sub-alpine vegetation is being burnt too frequently with fires originating from Lesotho. High fire frequency will result in the loss of some plants and animals and may ultimately lead to some extinctions in time. Wild fires are frequent occurrences in these high altitude grasslands in winter and spring (Mander et al., 2008; O’Connor, 2008). Any dynamic which compromises the integrity of the natural vegetation cover, particularly the grasslands, will result in the loss of capacity to deliver watershed services indicative by reduced rainfall infiltration, increased runoff, increased soil erosion, decreased dry season base flow and increased sediment loads in water courses (SANBI, 2012).
Hunting and trapping
(Poaching of animals and harvesting of medicinal plants)
Very Low Threat
Inside site
, Extent of threat not known
Outside site
Levels of harvesting / poaching are low (Short et al., 2003; Arnott, 2004).
Invasive Non-Native/ Alien Species
(Invasive alien plant species)
High Threat
Inside site
, Widespread(15-50%)
Outside site
Several invasive alien plant species threaten the natural vegetation communities and habitats (e.g. pine, wattle, American bramble, etc.). Invasive alien plant species replace and compete with indigenous plants leading to a change in the composition of vegetation communities and loss of species and habitats and a change of sense of place. The proximity of forestry plantations outside the park provides an important seed source (Mander et al., 2008; Forster et al., 2007). Recent modeling work shows that large portions of the montane vegetation are vulnerable to invasion by American Bramble (Rubus cuneifolius) (Ndlovu, et al, 2018) and that the Management Authorities capacity to counteract the spread is compromised due to their reliance on external funding sources for this critically important management action (EKZNW and MTEC, 2016).
Housing/ Urban Areas
(Residential developments in the buffer zone)
Low Threat
Outside site
There are proposals to change the town plan for the Cathkin Park village on the boundary from tourism to residential with the sub-division of agricultural land allowing for residential development. There is an increased number of rural homes in communally owned areas including the western boundary with Lesotho. The developments are outside the core area of the site but within its buffer zone. Aesthetic values are affected mainly locally both in approaching / travelling towards the site and views outwards from the site (Forster et al., 2007).
Livestock Farming / Grazing
(Overgrazing due to poor range management practices by private and communal livestock farmers)
High Threat
Inside site
, Throughout(>50%)
Outside site
Possible intensification of dairy farming with associated infrastructure development (dams, pastures) would affect the site. Communally owned areas in Lesotho on the unfenced western boundary are subject to overgrazing with regular incursions into the park, affecting the majority (maybe 100%) of the property. Overgrazing of the high altitude grassland would result in a loss of palatable grass species and loss of other plant species due to erosion and trampling (Forster et al., 2007; Arnott, 2004; Brown and Piper, 1987; Brown, 1992; Kruger, 2005). As with the threat of frequent burning, overgrazing would compromise the site's capacity to deliver watershed services (SANBI, 2012). Associated with the livestock incursions into the site is the long-standing issue of stock theft which compromises the security of the site, both from the perspective of management staff and visitors (Green Door Environmental, 2019).
Marine/ Freshwater Aquaculture
(Expansion of trout fish farm)
Very Low Threat
Outside site
The expansion of the trout fish farm on Bushmans River on the World Heritage site's boundary might have a localised aesthetic impact. Possible escape of trout into the river also represents a minor threat (research has demonstrated adverse impacts of trout, an alien species, on biodiversity).
Mining/ Quarrying
(Expansion of Letsing Diamond Mine (near western boundary in Lesotho))
Low Threat
Outside site
Letšeng Diamond Mine (in Lesotho, 13 km from the core area) has expanded. Possibly, two new diamond mines may be developed in future. Blasting operations result in vibrations; the consequences are unknown (e.g. on rock art and nesting raptors). The development is just outside the buffer zone (Mander et al., 2008; Forster et al., 2007; IUCN Consultation, 2017).
Roads/ Railroads
(Road upgrade to Sani Top and proposed cable car development)
Low Threat
Inside site
, Localised(<5%)
Outside site
Upgrade of the Sani Pass road has progressed to Phase 2 and is to be completed by 2020. It will allow for much increased traffic as well as the section from Sani Top to Mahotlong. Upgrade of the road and pass to Sani Top will also increase the number of tourists to this high altitude sensitive area. The proposed development of a cable car and a possible lease of a tourism site to a private developer will also add to the increase in tourist numbers. Terms of reference for an environmental impact assessment have been developed and the applicant has appointed a consultant to undertake a feasibility study. The site Management Authority is engaging in the process (Forster et al., 2007; IUCN Consultation, 2017). The feasibility study, particularly the environmental screening, showed that the development and operation of a cable car could impact quite significantly on important bird species, especially the Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) and the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) (KPDH, 2016). A cable car would constitute a high threat to the values of the site but due to the early stage of decision making, the threat is categorised as low for the time being. 
Tourism/ visitors/ recreation
(Path network not being maintained, causing erosion on steeper slopes)
Low Threat
Inside site
, Widespread(15-50%)
There is an extensive path network thoughout the area. In KZN it is relatively well designed for hiking, with anti-erosion drains in many places. In Lesotho and the Eastern Cape the paths are more associated with livestock movement than hikers. Lack of control, maintenance or initial design results in many braided and sunken paths which channel water and become deeply eroded.
High Threat
Possible developments near the site (e.g. wind farms) could have severe impacts on its values. Further industrial development of coal-fired power station and potential shale gas, gas and oil exploration within the newly delineated buffer zone of the property also represent high potential threats to the site's values if their potential impacts on the OUV is not fully consider prior to any activity (UNESCO, 2019). Impacts of climate change on sensitive grassland and wetland species are anticipated.
Oil/ Gas exploration/development
(Potential shale gas, gas and oil exploration within the newly delineated buffer zone)
High Threat
Outside site
The proposed shale gas, gas and oil exploration within the newly-proposed buffer zone has significant potential to affect the OUV of the property (UNESCO, 2019). The State Party have been requested by the Committee to ensure that any projects are subject to full EIAs which fully consider any impacts of the OUV of the property (World Heritage Committee, 2019). The appeal lodged by the site management authority over the proposed petrol filling station in the buffer zone also raises concern over the compatibility of this project with the conservation and integrity of the property (UNESCO, 2019).
Renewable Energy
(Lesotho Highlands Water Development Phase 2)
Low Threat
Outside site
Lesotho Highlands Water Development Phase 2 incorporates a large dam where hydro power would also be generated. The developments are outside the core area of the site but within its buffer zone (Forster et al., 2007). It is possible that this threat may be turned into an opportunity if both the Lesotho and South African governments, through their bi-lateral agreement governing the sale of water to South Africa, are able to realise the importance of investing in the catchment area to secure its integrity.
Renewable Energy
(Two wind farms being planned near western boundary with Lesotho)
High Threat
Inside site
, Extent of threat not known
Outside site
Two wind farms (with associated infrastructure) are at an advanced stage of planning near the western boundary with Lesotho. No progress on the project has been made since 2014 and little information is available at present (IUCN Consultation, 2017). Vortex modelling indicates that even limited wind farm development will have severe adverse impacts on raptor species, particularly the the Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) and the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) and would lead to their extinction within the site and regionally (Forster et al., 2007; Kruger, 2005).
Air Pollution
(Air pollution from coal fired power stations)
Data Deficient
Outside site
Fallout of airborne particle pollutants (acid rain) from coal-fired power stations to the north (Mpumalanga province) carried by high-altitude winds has been recorded (Forster et al., 2007).
Identity/social cohesion/ changes in local population and community that result in negative impact
(Population increase and densification of settlements in surrounding areas of communal land)
Low Threat
Inside site
, Extent of threat not known
Outside site
Population increase and densification of settlements in surrounding areas of communal land cause ever increasing levels of ecological fragmentation and biological isolation of the park. Reduced biological connectivity may result in some species becoming extinct, particularly given predicted increased rates of climate change (Mander et al., 2008; Forster et al., 2007; Kruger, 2005). Coupled to this is the poor settlement planning and control that exacerbates the related impacts (Zunckel, 2017).
The most significant threats to the biodiversity values of the site are from too high burning frequency (particularly at high altitudes), the spread of invasive alien plant species at the lower altitudes (particularly American Bramble (Rubus cuneifolius)) and the encroachment and overgrazing by livestock. These pose a serious threat to the outstanding biodiversity and scenic values. Although other threats are low, threats to the scenic values are also from outside the core area within the buffer zone. Possible developments near the site (e.g. wind farms) could have severe impacts on its values. Potential impacts of climate change on sensitive grassland and wetland species are anticipated along side industrial activity outside the boundaries of the site, if their negative impacts on the site's values are not fully considered.
Management system
Highly Effective
This transboundary site links the Sehlabathebe National Park in Lesotho with uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park in South Africa. Joint management documents have been developed and are being impelmented, including the joint fire management plan, joint cultural heritage management plan as well as alien and invasive species management plan, sustainable tourism strategc etc. The joint overarching management plan is being revised (States Parties of Lesotho and South Africa, 2018; World Heritage Committee, 2018). Management staff have received in-service capacity training and research is actively being carried out (Mander et al., 2008; O’Connor, 2003; World Heritage Committee, 2013; IUCN Consultation, 2017).
Effectiveness of management system
Some Concern
Management effectiveness assessments have been conducted and a 63.23% score achieved in 2016-2017 (IUCN Consultation, 2017). Persistent budget challenges are limiting the Management Authority's ability to implement effective management. Significant achievements have been made in developing management plans for fire, invasive alien species, sustainable tourism and cultural heritage in the site. Whilst the management plans and strategy are already being jointly implemented, more work is required to align the various management documents under the Joint Management Plan, which was under review at the time of reporting to the Committee in 2018 (States Parties of Lesotho and South Africa, 2019). 
Boundaries
Mostly Effective
Generally highly effective although the international western boundary is not demarcated and has resulted in legal issues and law enforcement challenges (Mander et al., 2008; Forster et al., 2007; IUCN Consultation, 2017). Consolidation of the two component areas of the site has been ongoing through rights-holders of the land in Upper Tugela, which would link the Cathedral Peak and Royal Natal sections of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. The process has reportedly come to a standstill due to a dispute regarding the boundary between the communal areas (IUCN Consultation, 2017; 2020). The process of delineating a buffer zone south of Sehlabethebe National Park on the South African side has now been finalised (State Parties of Lesotho and South Africa, 2019), which still needs to be formalised for the World Heritage site through a minorboundary modification (World Heritage Committee, 2019). However, the proposed shale gas, gas and oil exploration within this newly-proposed buffer zone has potential to affect the OUV of the property and should therefore be subject to appropriate Environmental and Heritage Impact Assessments (World Heritage Committee, 2019).
Integration into regional and national planning systems
Some Concern
The park is integrated into provincial and national biodiversity and tourism plans. Of concern is that integration at the local municipal level is poor / inadequate (Mander et al., 2008; Forster et al., 2007). The buffer zone for the World Heritage, south of Sehlabethebe National Park, has now been delineated on the South African side (States Parties of Lesotho and South Africa, 2019), and this should now be reflected under the Convention through a request for minor boundary modification as soon as possible (UNESCO, 2019). Also of concern is the ongoing delay in the completion of the Biodiversity Resources Management Bill by the State Party of Lesotho, which according to the sustainable tourism strategy is planned to be finalized by December 2020 (States Parties of Lesotho and South Africa, 2019). This represents a significant delay is should be expedited to prevent any potential damage to the OUV of the property in its continued absence (UNESCO, 2019). 
Relationships with local people
Mostly Effective
Engagement and communication structures are in place and operative, for example, community forums, local boards and park staff providing conservation teaching services to communities (Forster et al., 2007). There are some unresolved land claims by communities who were deprived of their land during the apartheid period. These claims are still under investigation (IUCN Consultation, 2017). A land swap (park land in exchange for high altitude uninhabited communally owned land) has been approved in principle and a Discussion Document developed (IUCN Consultation, 2017This process is ongoing. Although ownership of land might change if a land claim is successful, it should not lead to any change in land use. Therefore, the integrity of the site would remain unaffected. However, co-management of protected areas is proving to be problematic. There is community pressure on low-lying areas to permit stock grazing (Forster et al., 2007). Increasing levels of poverty affect people living in communal areas adjacent to the park and communities are frustrated by lack of service delivery by government that would improve their livelihoods. Should these social issues not be addressed, there would be a growing risk of the park being invaded by these people in order to access resources for their survival (Mander et al., 2008; Forster et al., 2007; Kruger, 2005).
Legal framework
Highly Effective
Comprehensive World Heritage, Conservation and Environmental laws and policies are in place and being implemented (Mander et al., 2008; Forster et al., 2007).
Law enforcement
Some Concern
While there is an active law enforcement effort implemented by the Management Authority, the western border is porous and cross border crime is prevalent, especially that associated with the theft of livestock. There have been on-going efforts by neighbouring commercial farmers to address this with a recent environmental impact assessment of crime prevention measures being undertaken (Green Door Environmental, 2019). The movement of narcotics and firearms has also been associated with stock theft.
Implementation of Committee decisions and recommendations
Mostly Effective
Generally most decisions and recommendations are implemented, albeit with delays in some cases, notably the ongoing delay in the delivery of the Biodiversity Resources Management Bill in Lesotho (World Heritage Committee, 2019), which has previously been attributed to insufficient staff or other management priorities (IUCN Consultation, 2017). Recommendations by the World Heritage Committee to link / incorporate the northern portion to the southern part of the site have stalled due to a border dispute between the two communities who reside on and use this land, as well as the inability of the Ingonyama Trust to take decisions on finalising the Biodiversity Stewardship Agreements necessary to facilitate the establishment of the two community conservation areas. Note also that the Biodiversity Stewardship unit within Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has limited capacity to champion the process. However several requests have recently been successfully implemented including efforts to improve the management of the property, in particular its cultural values, to invest in staff training and activities to strengthen the engagement of communities, and review the Joint Management Plan for the site (UNESCO, 2019; World Heritage Committee, 2019).
Sustainable use
Highly Effective
All natural resources that are used are done so on a sustainable basis with procedures and monitoring in place (Forster et al., 2007; IUCN Consultation, 2017).
Sustainable finance
Some Concern
Funds for management of the site are allocated in annual budgets. However, these are insufficient to deal with some high priority threats such as alien invasive plant control, path maintenance and cultural heritage management (Mander et al., 2008; Forster et al., 2007), despite the recent development of specific management plans for these issues.
Staff capacity, training, and development
Mostly Effective
In-service and external training and skills development are implemented on several important aspects of biodiversity management, conservation and environmental management (Forster et al., 2007).
Education and interpretation programs
Some Concern
Much more could be done in the fields of education and interpretation of the natural features, biodiversity and rock art in the site (Mander et al., 2008; Forster et al., 2007), in particular the San rock art sites within the Environmental Centre (UNESCO, 2017). Funding for the Didima Visitor Centre is such that it is not a self-sustaining entity, evidenced by the fact that repair of technical equipment at the centre is beyond the financial capacity of Ezemvelo, with the result that it is no longer fully functional (Leitão et al., 2017).
Tourism and visitation management
Mostly Effective
Facilities have a relatively high level of occupancy by visitors as a result of marketing the park as a prime destination for both local and international tourists (Mander et al., 2008; Forster et al., 2007), which is now specifically addressed in the Sustainable Tourism Management Plan (States Parties fo Lesotho and South Africa, 2019).
Monitoring
Mostly Effective
Climate, fire, large mammals and vultures are monitored annually. There is a need to increase monitoring especially of invertebrates, birds, small mammals, plants and indicators of climate change (Mander et al., 2008; Forster et al., 2007).
Research
Highly Effective
There is a suite of research projects being undertaken by university students and scientific staff of the Management Authority resulting in publications in journals and theses. Priority research projects are identified and a formal project registration and approval process is in place. Two new research facilities have been opened (Mander et al., 2008; Forster et al., 2007).
This transboundary site consists of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park (UDP) managed in accordance with an Integrated Management Plan and the Sehlabathebe National Park (SNP) in Lesotho. The management capacity of the latter is currently rather limited and the Joint Management Committee could help share and build capacity in Lesotho. However, challenges faced by the Management Authority of the UDP in terms of inadequate financial resources limits its capacity to implement effective management as well which will impinge on its capacity to support the SNP. EKZNW is progressively losing its capacity to manage the site effectively with large recurrent budget reductions leaving significantly reduced allocations for operational expenditure. While the conservation staff, who implement a hierarchy of integrated management plans and procedures to safeguard the biodiversity values of the site are well trained, much institutional memory has been lost and low operational budgets prevent key activities from being implemented on a consistent basis. Much progress has been made in defining and identifying appropriate and inappropriate developments within the buffer zone and a public consultation has been held along with the recent development of a number of management plans for specific issues including invasive species and tourism management. However, progress to have the buffer zone formally recognised have not been completed and the level of threat from negative external dynamics such as encroachment of settlements and livestock grazing are increasing.
Assessment of the effectiveness of protection and management in addressing threats outside the site
Some Concern
Generally the site is threatened by urban, tourism, infrastructure, agriculture and forestry developments and land uses and their cumulative impacts outside the core area and within the buffer zone. Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (EKZNW) which is the management authority of the site through the environmental impact assessment process is able to influence environmental impact decisions made by ministries and decision makers including submission of a legal appeal (Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, 2012). Its ability to influence decisions made in the neighbouring country of Lesotho is limited by bureaucratic and political procedures. The proposed shale gas, gas and oil exploration within the newly-proposed buffer zone is also of some concern as they have potential to affect the OUV of the property unless properly assessed under EIAs  (UNESCO, 2019).
Best practice examples
The methodology and process implemented by EKZNW in assessing management effectiveness of the various protected areas under its control is considered to be a significant best practice and more rigorous example that could be followed by other World Heritage site managers. The process of developing the buffer zone has been very active and inclusive, all government departments and municipalities are involved, and is a good example of cooperative governance.
World Heritage values

Outstanding scenic value expressed by the topographic variation, geology and vegetation

Low Concern
Trend
Stable
The scenic values of the site are threatened by urban, tourism, infrastructure, agriculture and forestry developments and land uses and their cumulative impacts outside the core area and within the buffer zone. However, the Outstanding Universal Value of the site is still preserved.

Outstanding plant species richness

High Concern
Trend
Stable
The plant species richness of the site faces a number of threats. Of particular concern are the frequent fires and alien invasive plant species, which pose direct and current threat to this value. The ongoing land use developments outside the site that results in the increasing ecological isolation of the site, habitat loss and fragmentation, are also of concern, especially with the ongoing lack of capcaoty from the management authority to address such threats. Research and monitoring is in place (Mander et al., 2008; Forster et al., 2007; IUCN Consultation, 2017) but this is limited and needs to be more inclusive and strategic.

Large number of endemic and globally threatened bird species

High Concern
Trend
Deteriorating
The population of bearded vulture and Cape griffon have shown a reduction in population size and breeding success (nest sites no longer in use). A monitoring and research programme is ongoing. The main agents of mortality affecting the population of these birds are the feeding on carcasses that have been poisoned by rural people and birds colliding with power lines. Body parts of the vultures have been found in traditional medicine markets. A bilateral Biodiversity Management Plan for vultures is in the process of being developed but implementation in both countries remains challenging.
Assessment of the current state and trend of World Heritage values
High Concern
Trend
Deteriorating
There are a number of significant internal and external threats which are working against the integrity of the site and the Management Authority's capacity to address them. Frequent fire in the upper reaches compromises the implementation of a scientifically based fire management regime, the spread of invasive alien plants in the lower reaches, the increasing vulnerability of these areas to this spread and the lack of funds to address these dynamics is of high concern. Besides laudable efforts to establish the buffer zone and the review of the Joint Management Plan, external dynamics of increasing settlement growth and livestock grazing continue to make the site increasingly more isolated is of growing concern in some instances.
Assessment of the current state and trend of other important biodiversity values
Data Deficient
Trend
Data Deficient
Little is known about the many endemic paleo-invertebrates particularly those species that inhabit the high altitude vegetation communities. Reptile fauna is also poorly understood although with relatively high diversity. Large mammals are well known but the diverse small mammal fauna is poorly known.

Additional information

Water provision (importance for water quantity and quality)
The site is the major high quality water producing area in South Africa (i.e. the water factory) supporting over 60% of the country’s GDP and the livelihoods of a large majority of the population (World Heritage Committee, 2014).
Factors negatively affecting provision of this benefit
Climate change
Impact level - Low
Trend - Increasing
Invasive species
Impact level - Moderate
Trend - Increasing
Carbon sequestration
Studies have shown that the site is a major / significant contributor for the sequestration of carbon and other benefits.
History and tradition,
Sacred natural sites or landscapes,
Wilderness and iconic features
The site is the world’s richest for outstanding San rock art (greatest number of sites and highest density of quality images). It is also the country’s largest wilderness area.
Outdoor recreation and tourism,
Natural beauty and scenery
The site provides a number of rest camps, campsites and a well marked and mapped network of hiking trails. Outside the site are many private facilities for tourist accommodation and recreation which depend on their proximity to the site for their existence. The site is therefore an important destination for the country’s tourism industry (i.e. amongst the top 10 regions).
Factors negatively affecting provision of this benefit
Climate change
Impact level - Low
Trend - Increasing
Invasive species
Impact level - Moderate
Trend - Increasing
The path network is not being maintained and is leading to considerable erosion and reduced visitor experience
Importance for research
Many research projects (natural science, archaeology) have been and are being undertaken that have resulted in numerous publications. The site is also important for conservation and environmental education and is used by many school, university, technikon and adult groups.
Direct employment,
Tourism-related income,
Provision of jobs
Many jobs are provided by the site for protected area managers and researchers and for tourism staff both within the sites and its environs. The tourism trade that exists because of the site generates additional jobs and economic spin off benefits, while jobs are created through other government funding initiatives such as the Working for Water programme that deals with invasive alien plant infestations, and the Extended Public Works Programme that offers employment for land rehabiliation activities.
Factors negatively affecting provision of this benefit
Overexploitation
Impact level - Low
Trend - Increasing
Invasive species
Impact level - Moderate
Trend - Increasing
Of major significance, the site provides both national and global benefits particularly in terms of environmental services, nature conservation, cultural, and tourism and recreation.
Organization Brief description of Active Projects Website
1 Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Endangered Wildlife Trust, Wildlands Conservation Trust. Vulture research and monitoring programme
2 Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Fire management and monitoring project incorporates a database, implementation of a control burning plan, and management of a long-term experimental grassland fire plots.
3 Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Alien invasive plant control programme.
4 Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Anti-poaching law enforcement programme
5 EKZNW Honorary Officers An assessment of the trail network to collect accurate GPS tracklogs and to provide data on the state of the path sections in terms of erosion, user experience, signage, etc. These data can be used to inform management of areas of concern, with enough detail to do accurate work budgetting.
6 South African Ecosystem Observation Network (SAEON) Long term ecological research in established research areas e.g. Cathedral Peak.
www.saeon.ac.za
7 Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site research programme. Research programme aimed at addressing priority research issues, management challenges and done in collaboration with several partners, including many universities inside and out of South Africa
www.kznwildlife.com

References

References
1
Arnott, W.L. (2004). The effect of burning frequency on invertebrate and indigenous forb diversity in a Drakensberg grassland ecosystem. Dissertation. Pietermaritzburg : University of KwaZulu-Natal.
2
Brown, C.J. (1992). Distribution and Status of the Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus in Southern Africa. Ostrich, 63(1), pp.1–9.
3
Brown, C.J. and Piper, S.E. (1987). Status of Cape Vultures in The Natal Drakensberg and Their Cliff Site Selection. Ostrich, 59, pp.126–136.
4
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife & MTEC (2016). Alien and Invasive Species Management Plan for the Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and MTEC, Pietermaritzburg & Maseru, 48 pp.
5
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. (2012). uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site Integrated Management Plan. Pietermaritzburg: Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
6
Forster, C., Mthimkhulu, O., Kiepiel, J. and Rushworth, I. (2007). An approach to the identification and establishment of a buffer zone to the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. Pietermaritzburg: Development Management Services and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
7
IUCN Consultation. (2017). IUCN World Heritage Confidential Consultation: Maloti-Drakensberg Park, South Africa.
8
KPDH (2016). Conducting of a Full Feasibility Study for the Development of the Drakensberg Cableway and Related Activities: Environmental Screening Report. Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. 138pp.
9
Karssing, R.J., Rivers-Moore, N.A. and Slater, K. (2012). Influence of waterfalls on patterns of association between trout and Natal cascade frog Hadromophryne natalensis tadpoles in two headwater streams in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, South Africa. African Journal of Aquatic Science, 37(1), pp.107–112.
10
Kruger, S. (2005). Wilderness Area Management Plan 2006-2011: uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, South Africa. Pietermaritzburg: Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
11
Krüger, S., Piper, S., Rushworth, I., Botha, A., Daly, B., Allan, D., Jenkins, A., Burden, D., Friedmann, Y. (editors). 2006. Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis) Population and Habitat Viability Assessment Workshop Report. Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (SSC / IUCN) / CBSG Southern Africa. [online] Endangered Wildlife Trust, Johannesburg. Available at: [Accessed on 9 July 2019].
12
Mander, M., Blignaut, J.J.G., Schulze, R.E., Horan, M., Dickiens, C., van Niekerk, C.A.W.J., Mavundla, K., Mahlangu, I., Wilson, A. and Mckenzie, M. (2008). An Ecosystem Services Trading Model for the Mnweni/Cathedral Peak and Eastern Cape Drakensberg Areas.
13
Ndlovu, P., Mutanga, O., Sibanda, M., Odindi, J., & Rushworth, I. (2018). Modelling potential distribution of bramble (rubus cuneifolius) using topographic, bioclimatic and remotely sensed data in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg, South Africa. Applied geography, 99, pp.54-62.
14
O’Connor, T.G. (2003). Influence of land tenure on populations of the medicinal plants Alepidia amatymbica, Eucomis autumnalis and Gunnera perpensa in the southern Drakensberg. Witwatersrand: University of Witwatersrand.
15
O’Connor, T.G. (2005). Influence of land use on plant community composition and diversity in Highland Sourveld grassland in the Southern Drakensberg, South Africa. Journal of Applied Ecology, 42, pp.975–988.
16
O’Connor, T.G. (2008). Influence of land use on phytomass accumulation in Highland Sourveld grassland in the southern Drakensberg, South Africa. African Journal of Range & Forage Science, 25(1), pp.17–27.
17
SANBI (2012). Supply Chain Management for Payment for Ecosystem Services in the Upper uThukela and Umzimvubu Catchments: PES Brokerage in the Upper uThukela. National Grassland Biodiversity Programme, Pretoria, South Africa. 32pp.
18
Short, A.D., O’Connor, T.G. and Hurt, C.R. (2003). Medium-term Changes in Grass Composition and Diversity of Highland Sourveld Grassland in the southern Drakensberg in response to Fire and Grazing Management. African Journal of Range & Forage Science, 20(1), pp.1–10.
19
States Parties of Lesotho and South Africa. (2018). Report of the State Party to the World Heritage Committee on the state of conservation of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park (Lesotho and South Africa). [online] States Parties of Lesotho and South Africa. Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/985/documents/ (Accessed 11 September 2019).
20
UNESCO. (2019). Report on the State of Conservation of Maloti-Drakensberg Park, Lesotho and South Africa. State of Conservation Information System of the World Heritage Centre. [online] Paris, France: UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/3927 (Accessed 11 September 2019).
21
World Heritage Committee. (2013). Decision: 37 COM 8B.18 Maloti-Drakensberg Park (Lesotho/South Africa). [online] Phnom Penh, Cambodia, p.173. Available at: [Accessed 7 March 2019].
22
World Heritage Committee. (2014). Decision 38 COM 8B.45 Adoption of the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value. Maloti-Drakensberg Park (Lesotho/South Africa), Context of Decision WHC-14/38.COM/8B. [online] Available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6132 [Accessed: 9 July 2019].
23
World Heritage Committee. (2019). Decision 43 COM 7B.38. Maloti-Drakensberg Park (Lesotho, South Africa). In: Report of decisions of the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee (Baku, 2019). [online] Paris, France: UNESCO World Heritage Centre,  Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/7591 [Accessed 9 July 2020].
24
Zunckel, K (2017). Baseline Assessment and Conceptual Model Report: Maloti-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site COMPACT Site Strategy. GEF Small Grants Programme, Pretoria, South Africa. 81pp.

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