To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must satisfy the selection criteria. These criteria are explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention which, besides the text of the Convention, is the main working document on World Heritage. The criteria have been revised regularly by the Committee to match the evolution of the World Heritage concept itself.
South Africa's Seven World Heritage Sites:
Cradle of Humankind
Greater St Lucia Wetland Park
uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park
Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
Cape Floral Region
The World Heritage Status is granted on the following conditions by UNESCO:
Cultural properties for World Heritage Sites should:
- represent a masterpiece of human creative genius; or
- exhibit an important interchange of human values over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design; or
- bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilisation which is living or has disappeared; or
- be an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or technological ensemble, or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history; or
- be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement or land-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change; or
- be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance (a criterion applied only in exceptional circumstances, and together with other criteria).
- Equally important is the authenticity of the site and the way it is protected and managed.
Natural properties for World Heritage Sites should:
- be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of land forms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features; or
- be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals; or
- contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
- or contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
- The protection, management and integrity of the site are also important considerations.
Mixed sites have both outstanding natural and cultural values.
Since 1992 significant interactions between people and the natural environment have been recognised as cultural landscapes -- a good South African example is the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape.