SOSSUSVLEI, 08 APR – The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has decided that no exploration of minerals will occur within the Namib Sand Sea World Heritage site at Sossusvlei in the Hardap Region.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Namib Sand Sea as a World Heritage site here Friday, Minister Pohamba Shifeta said all Exclusive Prospecting Licences that existed for the site have not been renewed, after it was inscribed as a heritage site on 21 June 2013 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
“The government is committed to meeting its obligations by ensuring that activities that are not consistent with World Heritage sites shall not be allowed to take place in this important site,” Shifeta said.
He noted that at the time of the inscription of the site, only two mining exploration licenses had been issued, but had expired and could not be renewed due to the significance of the site.
The Namib Sand Sea is situated within the Namib-Naukluft National Park, which is the largest protected area in Africa with a size of 49 768 square kilometres. It is under the management of the MET.
The combined features of the Sossusvlei and Deadvlei unique landscapes, ephemeral rivers, as well as numerous desert organisms such as the desert-adapted plants and animals, give the site its outstanding natural beauty considered to be of outstanding value for humanity.
At the occasion, Unesco’s Country Representative Dr Jean Pierre Ilboudo said there is potential for serial extension of the Namib Sand Sea beyond the Namib-Naukluft National Park.
Key management issues, therefore, would include managing the increased demand for visitor access to pristine areas and the prevention of mineral exploration rights that would influence the values and attributes of the area.
“The designation means the site displays outstanding universal values, therefore it is important to ensure that its irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration remain as such for the next generation,” said Ilboudo.
The Namib Sand Sea is the second world heritage site in Namibia after Twyfelfontein in the Kunene Region, which is home to the world’s largest concentration of rock art. It was inscribed on the World Heritage Site List in 2007.