Barberton Makhonjwa Mountainlands World Heritage Site

The world-class heritage of the region’s geology – 3 200 million to 3 600 million year-old rocks, in unsurpassed state of preservation, contain the best sequence of the world’s oldest geological record available on earth. These highly accessible Archaean exposures present a continuous 350 million year sequence of rocks. Scientific research from the Barberton Mountain Lands has provided the earliest records of how the earth’s crust was formed. It is currently in the process of redefining the date for the first occurrence of life on earth – an astonishing one billion years earlier than previously estimated. Here evidence has been found of one of the first massive meteorite impacts possibly related to the formation of our moon. Tidal traces billions of years old are so precisely recorded they allow for calculation of changes in the distance between the earth and the moon. The Barberton Mountain Lands is the only place on earth where the development of the early earth crust and evolution of life itself can be studied. This is truly the place where life began.

This area is of “… natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity. As such, the permanent protection of this heritage is of the highest importance to the international community as a whole.” (Section 49 of the UNESCO World Heritage Council Guidelines). The Barberton Mountain Lands is therefore currently in the process of gaining UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site. The site has been on the UNESCO Tentative List from 2008. The final World Heritage Site Nomination Dossier was completed and approved by the Republic on 23 January 2017 and submitted to UNESCO in February 2017.

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