The development of management guidelines for the conservation of heritage resources in Wakkerstroom, Mpumalanga

Reitumetse Sethaba, Reitumetse Sethaba
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG 11) states: “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”, including the target to “strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage”. Heritage resources are important to conserve because they allow a historical context, are included in the definition of identity and in some cases provide livelihoods for people in South Africa and the world. Management is fundamental for conservation to be successful, and stakeholder engagement plays an important role. This study aimed to use stakeholder perceptions to contribute to the development of management guidelines for conservation of heritage resources in the town of Wakkerstroom, Mpumalanga. To achieve this, heritage resources in the town were identified. A stakeholder map was constructed to illustrate stakeholder groups and linkages relating to conservation in the town. Interviews were conducted for information including heritage value definitions, perceived threats to heritage, valued resources and key conservation issues. Stakeholders in the Esizameleni Township area (27 respondents), the Town area (15 respondents) and managers of key conservation organisations in Wakkerstroom were interviewed. Resources identified included the Wakkerstroom wetland, the Paul Kruger Bridge, St Mark’s Anglican Church, the Old Courthouse Building and the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk. From interviews, a disconnect was noted amongst the stakeholders of the two sites with heritage conservation efforts found to be concentrated in the Town area of Wakkerstroom. Heritage value definitions in the Town area were centered on inheritance, while Township stakeholders valued the identity aspect of heritage. A lack of communication, participation and awareness around heritage conservation were identified as key issues amongst the communities. In addition, unlike with natural heritage conservation, no organisation was found to be responsible for cultural heritage conservation in the town. The study makes suggestions for improved management by responsible organisations and the municipality. Suggestions in natural heritage management include addressing cattle grazing and fire management in the wetland. Suggestions are also made regarding addressing issues relating to a lack of communication and participation in conservation. While natural heritage is under the care of the Wakkerstroom Natural Heritage Association (WNHA), there is no organization in the town tasked with the care of cultural heritage resources. The municipality of Dr. Pixley Ka Isaka Seme must take further responsibility on provisioning for better management of cultural heritage through the formation of a committee or organization, possibly under the same umbrella as the WNHA. All suggestions towards improved heritage conservation are made with the aim of achieving sustainable communities in the town of Wakkerstroom, contributing to SDG 11
This research report is submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Environmental Sciences by Coursework and Research Report, University of the Witwatersrand, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, 2020