Smuts, K and Wiltshire, N. Challenges Facing Heritage Management in South Africa: Implementation of a Web-Based National Heritage Management System. In Sadr, K., Esterhuysen, A. and Sievers, C. (Eds). African Archaeology without Frontiers: Papers from the 2014 PanAfrican Archaeological Association Congress. Johannesburg: Wits University Press, pp. 165-177.
This presentation discusses the systemic problems with heritage management in South Africa that have been highlighted by the fractured uptake of the South African Heritage Resources Information System (SAHRIS) and to propose potential solutions to the challenges encountered since the promulgation of the National Heritage Resources Act (Act 25 of 1999). SAHRIS has three primary functions, encompassing a national heritage sites repository, a national collections management system and the integration of heritage management functions such as permit and developments applications. This presentation predominantly focuses on issues uncovered by the heritage management suite of features. The first version of SAHRIS went live to the South African public in August 2012, allowing SAHRA to phase out paper-based and emailed submissions for applications in March 2013. Amafa Heritage KwaZulu-Natal followed suit in April 2013. This has led to an improvement in the efficiency and responsiveness of these authorities and has provided a transparent mechanism for applicants and stakeholders to track heritage related applications and official responses online. Despite the measurable gains made by SAHRA and Amafa, the uptake of SAHRIS has been variable in other provinces in South Africa. The issues faced by each province will be summarised in this paper based on usage statistics generated on SAHRIS, interviews with key stakeholders and experiences learned from rolling out the system nationwide over the last two years. A range of potential solutions to the current challenges will be proposed in this paper with the objective of steering and contributing towards better policy formulation and governance in this sphere over the next five years.
Deacon, J., du Plessis, R., and Wiltshire, N., 2016. Rock Art Digital Recording, Local Community Engagement, And Public Outreach In The Cederberg Fynbos Biome World Heritage Site, South Africa. Presented at the British Museum Conference, November 2016.
The National Heritage Resources Act of 1999 requires the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) to compile and maintain an inventory of the national estate. One of us (NW) was contracted to design and establish this inventory as the South African Heritage Resources Information System (SAHRIS). In addition to many other heritage places, SAHRIS now includes about 2000 Later Stone Age rock painting sites in the mountainous terrain of the Cederberg, an area about 140 x 40 km in the Western Cape Province. Almost half of these sites have been added in the last 9 years by a group of volunteers coordinated by JD. They use a cell phone app designed by NW to log basic information about the places they locate and forward the records directly to SAHRIS. The main purpose has been to map the distribution of rock paintings, summarise basic details about the images, store digital photographs that can be used for research in the future, and produce cultural heritage management plans for the property owners. An area known as Truitjieskraal in the Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve, which forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom World Heritage Site, is visited mainly by sport rock climbers, and the reserve manager (R. du P) saw an opportunity to interest them and their families in the rock paintings and the history of the people who made them. A trail has now been developed by CapeNature with information boards that describe the interaction of pre- and post-colonial people with the geology, vegetation, mammals, insects, birds, and the effect of fire on the landscape. Members of the local community have been trained as rock art tourist guides in a Getty Conservation Institute rock art conservation and site management program. The results from questionnaires returned by visitors to the trail have been enthusiastic.
Bluff, K., and Galimberti, M., 2015. Presentation of Heritage Screeners. Poster presented at the IAIAsa 2015 National Conference, August 2015, Drakensberg.
South Africa has excellent heritage legislation in the form of the National Heritage Resources Act (25 of 1999) but, until recently, the availability of accurate heritage site data has been generally poor. In 2012, the South African Heritage Resources Agency released SAHRIS, the country’s first national heritage management system which integrates directly with the development process. SAHRIS was created to fulfill Section 39 of the NHRA pertaining to data about all heritage resources in the country which form part of the National Estate. Nic Wiltshire, the Director of CTS Heritage, developed SAHRIS and since September 2014 the team at CTS Heritage has been working hard on the release of a new product called the Heritage Screener. The screener is based on the data fed into SAHRIS to improve and automate the application process for new developments and to provide an early warning mechanism in the planning process. CTS Heritage actively extracts, moderates and adds information from a variety of sources to SAHRIS. CTS Heritage is the only approved company in the country which has a Memorandum of Agreement with SAHRA to amplify and improve the level of information contained in the National Estate. Much of the data digitised and extracted by CTS Heritage into SAHRIS has come from Heritage Impact Assessments carried out since the 1980s. At the end of May 2015, CTS Heritage had managed to extract over 8300 sites, more than a quarter of all the data housed in the National Estate on SAHRIS. The Heritage Screener has been presented to and endorsed by every major heritage authority in South Africa and has advantages for developers, EAPs, heritage practitioners and heritage officers based in government.
What are Heritage Screeners?
● They provide a succinct, visual report of all the known heritage resources in a proposed development area.
● They characterise the types of heritage resources to gauge the nature, density and sensitivity of the sites which are likely to be found when new work is carried out in the inclusion zone.
● The level of impact of proposed developments is formulated into a standard recommendation which accurately predicts the response by the heritage authorities.
● All unmoderated data surrounding the proposed development is cleaned and corrected by CTS Heritage.
● The grading of heritage resources is resolved by CTS Heritage according to the latest accepted practices and standards of the heritage authorities.
● The costs of the heritage component of compliance is reduced by supporting an exemption from further heritage related work or eliminating components of a HIA that are unnecessary. Note in some cases a full HIA is recommended in areas that are highly sensitive or completely unknown.
Wiltshire, N. 2015. SAHRIS: The South African Heritage Resources Information System. Presented at the Pretoria Institute for Architecture conference, June 2015.
The South African Heritage Resources Information System (SAHRIS), introduced in South Africa in 2012, is an online platform providing access to Heritage Impact Assessments and other heritage reports compiled in South Africa (Wiltshire 2011). The information available in these reports is highly variable and not structured in a database-friendly format. However, the data, once extracted and organised on SAHRIS, has the potential to map the level of heritage sensitivity at various scales. This paper will discuss how Cedar Tower Services (CTS) is addressing the wide gap between ‘available’ data versus ‘useful’ data on SAHRIS by extracting, moderating and mapping this data while compiling ‘Heritage Screeners’. This product is primarily used at the very early stages of the Environmental Impact Assessment and mining application processes. This paper will also discuss how CTS dealt with technical and methodological issues that needed to be addressed when assessing the level of survey coverage, grading of sites and appropriate mapping strategies to present the information in the screeners without compromising the quality or accuracy of the information. CTS also identified repositories of records that have not yet been digitised and pockets of missing/incomplete records in the national system. We will elaborate on what we have done to overcome these gaps, particularly with regard to the reports housed in the registries of the provincial heritage resources authorities.
Lavin, J. Straight to the (Baboon) Point: A look at the Conservation of Archaeological Landscapes in South Africa using Baboon Point as a Case Study. Presented at the IACHM Conference, 2016, Salalah, Oman
The conservation of heritage and specifically archaeological resources in South Africa has since 1999 been subject to the National Heritage Resources Act. This piece of legislation provides general protection for all archaeological resources and provides mechanisms of protection other than monumentalisation, however challenges arise with regard to the definition and identification of archaeological sites and landscapes. Since 1999, this legislation has been used to conserve numerous archaeological landscapes which are World Heritage Sites including, but not limited to, Mapungubwe, the Cradle of Humankind, Kathu Site Complex and Pinnacle Point Site Complex. The first archaeological landscape to be formally protected under this piece of legislation is Cape Deseada (Baboon Point). Cape Deseada consists of a layered archaeological landscape rich in significance that, due to its location, is under threat of development. The mechanism of conservation of archaeological landscapes by state bodies has serious implications for scientific research. Using Cape Deseada, as well as the other archaeological sites mentioned above as examples, this paper critically reviews the actions of administrative authorities in response to development threats to archaeological landscapes, using the mechanisms provided in the available legislation, the impacts to archaeological resources that result and the involvement of conservation bodies, professional organisations and the public in these conservation efforts. Challenges faced include the pro-active identification of archaeological resources on the landscape as well as the attribution of heritage significance to the “scatters between the patches”. The case studies identified highlight the failures and successes of the current system for the conservation of archaeological landscapes and present an opportunity for its improvement.
Lavin, J. Conservation of Archaeological Landscapes in the South African context. Presented at a workshop held in San Fransisco supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Leakey Foundation in 2015.