St. Lucia system, with 4 Ramsar sites, picked for World Heritage
(posted to the Ramsar Forum, 2 December 1999)
Dear Forum members,
Attached please find a press release on the successful inscription of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park to the list of World Heritage Sites. This site includes four of South Africa's Ramsar sites - the St Lucia System, Lake Sibaya, the Turtle Beaches and Coral Reefs of Tongaland, and the Kosi Bay System. I believe this extra recognition of the importance of these wetland systems will only help us in our efforts to conserve them.
Deputy Director, Conservation Management
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Republic of South Africa
ST LUCIA - WORLD NATURAL HERITAGE SITE
EMBARGO: For immediate release
The KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service (NCS) welcomes the announcement that the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park is to be inscribed on the World Heritage List, and will therefore be South Africas first Natural Property World Heritage Site.
"We are absolutely thrilled and delighted with the announcement," said Dr Hans Grobler, NCS Deputy Chief Executive. "There are the many South Africans and people from other countries who have a deep love of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and who have supported us in our efforts to ensure that the Park and its natural systems are protected for all time", he said.
"St Lucia, a crown jewel amongst South African conservation areas, has now for the first time been justly recognised as being of outstanding universal value to mankind", said Dr Grobler.
KZN Minister of Agriculture and Environment Affairs, Mr Narend Singh, expressed his great pleasure at the announcement, saying that it would provide great impetus for tourism to the province as a whole and that KwaZulu-Natal stood to benefit enormously from the job-creation opportunities that would stem from sustainable eco-tourism development in the St Lucia region.
World Heritage Site status provides the highest form of protection for the Park, and it is anticipated that an increasing number of foreign tourists will visit the Park in view of its new global status.
"Our challenge for the future is to develop the infrastructure to allow visitors to enjoy that which makes St Lucia such a special place - but to develop in such a way so as not to impact on its natural values or to interfere with the essence of the place - that which makes St Lucia so very special," he added.
The 250 000 ha Greater St Lucia Wetland Park incorporates the entire Lake St Lucia, the St Lucia and Maputaland Marine Reserves, the Coastal Forest Reserve, and Kosi Bay Nature Reserve. It encompasses a vast mosaic of habitats ranging from marine systems such as coral reefs and beaches, and coastal forests; from salt and fresh water marshes to the open estuarine waters of Lake St Lucia itself; from lush coastal plains to the drier woodland areas.
The protected area is home to the largest, southernmost population of hippos and 1,000 crocodiles, as well as a wealth of plant and animal life including a great richness in bird life.
The Park is already a fast-growing premier tourism destination and offers a wide range of tourist activities that range from fishing, boating and birdwatching, to scuba-diving, hiking and camping as well as offering outstanding photographic opportunities to the amateur and professional alike. Through tourism the Park offers growing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities to business and local rural communities alike.
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