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The Early Cape Farmsteads World Heritage Site Nomination

Explore the site to find out more about the international significance of the Early Cape Farmsteads and how to make your comments related to a draft Integrated Conservation Management Plan which will accompany the World Heritage Site nomination.

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this website is to disseminate information and to facilitate public comment on a draft Integrated Conservation Management Plan that must accompany the World Heritage Site nomination of “Early Cape Farmsteads of the Cape of Good Hope”. The proposal was placed on the World Heritage Site Tentative List of the Republic of South Africa in 2015. The historic farmsteads of Groot Constantia and Vergelegen were selected as representational sites. They are located within the City of Cape Town of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. 

The selection of Groot Constantia and Vergelegen as representational sites has already been through an extensive process and does not form part of the scope of work of the Integrated Conservation Management Plan. The Integrated Conservation Management Plan clarifies and expands on the Justification for World Heritage Site Inscription to assist with the preparation of the World Heritage Site Nomination Dossier. However, its primary focus is identifying the boundaries of the World Heritage Site, assessing the State of Conservation of each site, and providing an implementation plan to ensure best heritage conservation practice, and that the proposed World Heritage Site is protected, managed, enhanced and sustained for future generations. 

You are now invited to comment specifically on: 
  • The proposed boundaries of the World Heritage Site, including buffer areas. 
  • The performance risk assessment of the State of Conservation of the World Heritage Site. 
  • The proposed strategies for mitigating risks and improving performance. 
  • The proposed protection and management of core and buffer areas including protective mechanisms, management structures and institutional arrangements. 

The Integrated Conservation Management Plan was drafted by a team of heritage consultants appointed by Heritage Western Cape in association with the Provincial Western Cape Department of Arts Culture and Sport. It has been prepared in accordance with the provisions of the World Heritage Convention Act (Act 49 of 1999) and Schedule published in the Government Gazette 39347 dated October 2015 for the Format and Procedure for the Nomination of World Heritage Sites in the Republic of South Africa, the Convention for the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention) and its Operational Guidelines, and the National Heritage Resources Act (Act 25 of 1999). 

A full copy of the Integrated Conservation Management Plan can be downloaded from this website or the website of HWC; www.hwc.org.za. It can also be viewed at the offices of Heritage Western Cape, 3rd Floor, Protea Assurance Building, Greenmarket Square, Cape Town. 

SUBMISSION OF COMMENTS 
Comments on the draft Integrated Conservation Management Plan must be submitted to Heritage Western Cape on or before the xxx 2019. 
Comments must be addressed in writing to: 
Heritage Western Cape
Chief Executive Officer 
E-mail: ceoheritage@westerncape.gov.za 
Telephone: 021 483 9598
Postal Address: Private Bag X9067, Cape Town, 8000 

dOWNLOAD THE DRAFT INTEGRATED CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT PLAN

OVERVIEW

Set in a unique natural environment at the southern point of Africa, and enriched by influences from various continents, a unique cultural landscape evolved at the Cape over the past 350 years. With patterns of cultivation, farmsteads and outbuildings, nestling beneath mountains and along water courses, the Early Cape Farmsteads illustrate the impact of human settlement, agricultural activities, labour and slavery on the natural landscape since the late 17th century. 

Representing the Early Cape Farmsteads are Groot Constantia and Vergelegen, which lie on either side of False Bay. In the 17th century these were remote outposts of the VOC where political leaders from the East Indies were banished but in time pioneer farmers also came to settle there. As the colonial settlement expanded, it steadily encroached on the grazing land of the indigenous pastoralists who were eventually displaced. While some Khoekhoe moved away others remained and ended up working on farms. 

Groot Constantia and Vergelegen were owned by two consecutive governors at the Cape, the father and son, Simon and Willem Adriaan van der Stel. Their farms were granted in 1685 and 1700, respectively, and were much larger than others. While the normal grant was 60 morgen, Constantia was 891 morgen and Vergelegen 400 morgen. Grievances such as these led to a settler uprising in 1706 and brought an end to the van der Stel era. 

As the settler way of life became entrenched, a vernacular architecture emerged well suited to the Cape. Wine farming in particular was labour intensive and depended on slaves from the Indian Ocean basin. Although slavery was abolished in 1838, its legacy lives on in the rich mix of people, cultures and religions at the Cape. 

During the latter half of the 19th century, wine farmers endured a series of setbacks that culminated in the phylloxera epidemic and caused devastation throughout the Cape. Meanwhile the discovery of diamonds and gold to the north would have a profound effect on the region and in 1910 the Union of South Africa was formed. After decades of racial strife and political struggle, the first democratic government of South Africa was elected in 1994. 

The local wine industry continued to expand and supply wines to the international market. The Cape, with its historic farmsteads, is recognised as one of the foremost wine regions in the world.  

dESCRIPTION OF THE PROPERTIES

Groot Constantia

Description

Groot Constantia Estate is located within Municipal Ward 71, Constantia, which falls within the City of Cape Town Municipal Area of the Western Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa. It is situated adjacent to the Cape Peninsula National Park overlooking False Bay to the south. The total extent of landholdings comprising the Estate is 138,5802 hectares and forms an integral component of an agricultural and a natural landscape located to the west of the suburbs of Constantia.
Go to the Groot Constantia website

Location

History

Groot Constantia is one of the earliest wine farms in the country. The farm, originally known as Constantia, was granted to Simon van der Stel in 1685. As Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel did much to develop farming at the Cape and encouraged Huguenot refugees with wine-making expertise to settle there. During his ownership Constantia wines were supplied to the VOC and began to be exported to Europe. After van der Stel’s death in 1712 his large estate was subdivided. Wine-making continued at Hoop op Constantia, which was later absorbed into Groot Constantia. The Colyn family oversaw wine-making on both farms and produced wines of excellent quality during the 18th century. By this stage Constantia wines had become world famous and visitors often remarked on the terroir that made these wines so special. In 1778 Hendrik Cloete purchased Groot Constantia and developed it into a grand estate. An experienced farmer, Cloete set about replanting vineyards and building an impressive new cellar on the farm. Wine-making continued to flourish and by the mid-19th century the Cloetes were winning international awards for their wines. In 1885 the Cape government took over Groot Constantia and developed it as an experimental farm. A nursery for disease resistant American rootstock was established to combat the spread of phylloxera. Although wine-farming was on the verge of collapse, efforts at Groot Constantia helped to put the Cape wine industry on a secure footing again. After a fire in 1925 the Groot Constantia homestead was restored and opened to the public as a museum in 1927. The historic core of Groot Constantia was proclaimed a national monument in 1936 and was extended to the whole estate in 1984. Since 1969 the museum component has been managed, first by South African Cultural History Museum, then by Iziko Museums of South Africa. In 1993 ownership was transferred to the Groot Constantia Trust with the express purpose of developing the farm as a national heritage asset which would be accessible to the general public. The Trust undertook further restoration of the historic core and today it is one of Cape Town’s top tourist destinations with restaurants and wine tasting facilities.

Historic Core

A sketch by EV Stade depicts Constantia homestead in 1710 while Simon van der Stel was still alive. It shows a triple gabled homestead beneath a crescent of mountains to the south west and a ship anchored in False Bay to the east. A closer view by JW Heydt in 1741 provides more details about the layout of the homestead and outbuildings alongside. The present homestead stands on the original site but was remodelled by Hendrik Cloete at the turn of the 19th century. Evidence of these changes was uncovered during restoration in the 1920s. The homestead was widened and as a result exceptionally tall gables were built to accommodate a larger and steeper roof. The front gable typifies the halsgevel found in the Cape peninsula and contains a niche with a sculpted figure of Abundance. The design of Cloete’s wine cellar is attributed to the architect, Louis Michel Thibault. The focal point is an ornate pediment, depicting an allegory of wine, by the sculptor Anton Anreith. At the back of the cellar, is a small office where the Cloetes could oversee work on the farm. On the west side of the werf is a row of outbuildings: the jonkershuis, coach house and stables. These were renovated by the Cloetes and the distinctive klokgevels added. The site of Simon van der Stel’s slave lodge has not been found. In EV Stade’s sketch of 1710 there is a long thatched building with low eaves to the west of the homestead. This is thought to be the original wine cellar and stood more or less in the area where subsequent wine cellars were built. After a fire in 1925, the architect RK Kendall undertook the first major restoration project at Groot Constantia. Influenced by the Cape Dutch revival at the time, Kendall saw fit to add Arts & Crafts features in the woodwork and ironmongery of the homestead. Kendall also wrote a book describing the project in detail. In 1993 a second major restoration was undertaken Revel Fox & Partners and focussed on the Cloete cellar and the outbuildings to the west of the werf.

Landscape Elements

In EV Stade’s drawing of 1710 the homestead is partially obscured by woods and vine covered hills. Nowadays the homestead comes into full view as one enters via the embankment. The linear nature of the werf is accentuated by the old road that runs from the old gate posts to the front door. Parallel to it is the long ring wall that Hendrik Cloete built along the eastern edge of the werf with a panoramic view of False Bay. On the west side of the werf is a row of gabled outbuildings and enclosures. A formal axis is created by a long avenue of oak trees that leads to the forecourt of the gabled homestead. Here it continues through the U-shaped homestead and opens onto another forecourt where the Cloete cellar with its magnificent pediment stands. The axis passes through the Cloete cellar and office, ending in a narrow flight of steps to the south. Striking in its simplicity, the grandeur of Groot Constantia comes from applying classic principles of proportion, axial relationships, orthogonal form, symmetry, hierarchical structure, human scale and modulation of built structures. In 1993 a master plan was developed for Groot Constantia. The landscaping concept is influenced by simple geometric lines that relate to the avenues, werfs and boundaries, with the minimal use of mixed plants and hard material. A cross-axis links the historic bathing pool at the top of the hill with the werf below, and meets the main axis at the forecourt of the homestead. The planting of oaks was encouraged by Simon van der Stel and oaks still feature in the werf and along borders of farmland. Early visitors were particularly impressed with the silver trees that stood near the old entrance to the farm. The modern entrance has been moved to the north east so as not to detract from the historic core. A new wine sales and office block was built there and traffic rerouted around the back of the complex.

Farm and Surroundings

After Simon van der Stel’s death in 1712, Constantia was divided into three portions, Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, and Bergvliet, all of which underwent further subdivisions over the centuries. Groot Constantia retains the historic core as well as the farm Hoop op Constantia. Along the mountainside to the south is the neighbouring wine farm Klein Constantia, and below it Buitenverwachting and Constantia Uitsig. To the north and east stretch the suburbs of Constantia and Bergvliet. Today Groot Constantia falls within Municipal Ward 71, Constantia, of the City of Cape Town. It is a fully operational farm, totalling 148,5802 hectares, with approximately 90 hectares under vineyards. The landscape transects a mountainous wilderness above, an historic agrarian landscape in the middle, and view across suburbia to the coastline below. The Constantia valley epitomises the Cape Winelands Cultural Landscape with its mountain setting, productive agricultural landscape, riverine corridors and collection of significant historic farms. Facing ever increasing threat from urbanisation, the Constantia-Tokai Farmlands have been graded by the national heritage authority (SAHRA) as a Grade 1 (national) heritage resource. Groot Constantia borders on the Table Mountain National Park, which is one of the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site. The upper slopes of the farm have been set aside for conservation while alien vegetation is being removed from the upper reaches of the rivers. As a result Groot Constantia was granted Conservation Champion status by the World Wildlife Fund’s Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) in 2017. 

Vergelegen

Description

Vergelegen Estate is located within Municipal Ward 100, Helderberg, which falls within the City of Cape Town Municipality of the Western Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa. It is situated in the Helderberg Basin ranging from the banks of the Lourens River to the Hottentots Holland Mountains. The total extent of landholdings comprising the Estate is 3020 hectares and forms an integral component of an agricultural and a natural landscape located to the east of the suburbs of Somerset West.
Go to the Vergelegen Estate website

Location

History

Vergelegen was at the centre of the conflict between the settlers and the Governor in 1706. Willem Adriaan van der Stel was accused of using VOC resources to develop his private estate and selling the farm produce in direct competition with the settlers. As a result Willem Adriaan was removed from office and Vergelegen confiscated. 

Historical images of Vergelegen depict extensive plantations with an octagonal complex flanked by four large outbuildings. Archaeological excavations have verified the existence of such buildings, which are considered to be a prototype of early Cape architecture. Of particular interest was the massive slave lodge built to house 200 or more slaves. Willem Adriaan van der Stel had the largest private slave holding ever at the Cape. On record are the names, ages, origins and transactions of each slave and some references to their conditions on the farm. Diagonally opposite the slave lodge was the first wine cellar at Vergelegen where Willem Adriaan van der Stel produced 55 leaguers of wine annually. He wrote the African Gardener’s and Agriculturist’s Almanac which reflects his broad interest in horticulture and farming. 

After the Governor’s downfall, Vergelegen was subdivided and changed hands several times. The Theunissen family owned the farm for most of the 19th century and built the second wine cellar in 1816. Slavery was coming to an end and the old slave lodge had already been demolished. As wine farming became more difficult as the century progressed, the Theunissens were forced to sell. In 1917 Vergelegen was acquired by the Randlord, Sir Lionel Phillips. Both he and his wife, Florence, were keen on Cape heritage and undertook the extensive restoration of their historic estate. 

As wine farming had come to standstill, the 1816 wine cellar was converted into a library for Sir Lionel Phillips. The focus shifted to dairy farming and continued when the Barlows took over in 1941. Anglo American bought Vergelegen from the Barlow family in 1987. Three years later the African National Congress was unbanned and Nelson Mandela was freed from prison. The ANC caucus held its first meeting at Vergelegen in May 1990 before restoration of the homestead took place. Under Anglo American Vergelegen was developed as a wine farm and a third, ultra modern, wine cellar was built on Rondekop. In 1993 the heritage core was opened to the public, with restaurants and a wine tasting centre close by. Vergelegen has adopted the principle of ‘layered history’ to inform all developments on the estate.

Historic Core

Since the 1700s the octagon has become an iconic symbol for Vergelegen. It determines the shape of the present wine cellar and is replicated in various parts of the garden. The Contra Deductie shows the octagon as a doubled walled enclosure with the main homestead facing the foreman’s house across an orangery, with pens for animals on either side. 

Beyond the walls of the octagon lay four large outbuildings, the foundations of which were uncovered during archaeological excavations in the 1990s. The only visible remnants of the original complex are the inner walls of the octagon and the ruin of the old mill to the west. It is unlikely that the original homestead was demolished as instructed by the VOC but it was certainly remodelled during the 18th century as were the outbuildings. 

The Rococo gable over the south west entrance probably dates from the 1780s when the farm was owned by the Malans. Alys Fane Trotter’s sketches depict how the layout and buildings of Vergelegen had evolved during the Theunissen era. The homestead had become H-shaped with a glazed yellowwood screen in the voorkamer. A second wine cellar with as neo-classical gable was built in 1816. The first major restoration of Vergelegen was undertaken in the early 20th century by the Phillips’s. Their architect, Percy Walgate, added two new wings to the homestead and adapted the octagon to the new owners’ use. In line with contemporary thinking, the restoration blended Arts & Crafts features with the vernacular architecture. Walgate published an article on the restoration in 1925. 

In the 1990s Anglo American appointed Rennie & Goddard to restore the heritage core. It was decided to retain the Phillips’s wings but convert the bedroom wing into guest accommodation with rooms in the loft. The parking area and visitor centre were relegated to the east of the octagon. It is in this area that a new restaurant and wine tasting centre were subsequently built.

Landscape Elements

In the Korte Deductie Willem Adriaan van der Stel depicted Vergelegen as a remote fortress set with lions and armed men roaming the mountainside. There is still a sense of creating ‘order’ in the landscape at Vergelegen, with sweeping views connecting the built complex below with the mountain wilderness above. To accentuate this an arboretum is being planted in a radius of 50 hectare around the heritage core, with bold axes offering dramatic vistas to the north, south, east and west. 

The plan of Vergelegen in the Contra Deductie indicates that it was laid out on classic principles of geometry, symmetry and proportion. These principles still pertain with the main axis cutting through the octagon to north east and secondary axes running parallel or perpendicular to it. A series of 19 gardens are linked along these routes. Each one is distinct from the other yet united by the use of strong geometry and bold, simple forms. None of the gardens are visible at once, but are revealed as the visitor traverses the estate. 

A recent acquisition has been a collection of 1000 camellias which have been planted along the edge of the Great Lawn and the yellowwood trail. For this Vergelegen received a Garden of Excellence award from the International Camellia Society in 2010. Amongst the oldest trees to be found at Vergelegen are a 400 year old yellowwood, possibly the oldest oak in the country, and a mulberry bush dating from 1700. A row of stately camphor trees, planted by Willem Adriaan van der Stel in front of the homestead, were proclaimed a national monument in 1942, now a provincial heritage site.

Farm and Surroundings

After Willem Adriaan van der Stel was recalled, Vergelegen was subdivided into four and auctioned off in 1709. The lowest section, Cloetenberg became the site of the village of Somerset in 1817. Higher up, on either side of the Lourens River, were the farms Land & Zeezicht and Morgenster. The top section, with the heritage core, retained the name Vergelegen. During the 19th century the size of this farm greatly increased in size with the acquisition of large tracts of quitrent land against the mountainside to the east. The total extent of Vergelegen is 3020 hectares. It is a fully operational farm and is one of Cape Town’s and South Africa’s leading tourist attractions, where a wide range of award winning estate wines are produced. It is located within Municipal Ward 100, Helderberg, of the City of Cape Town. Situated in the Helderberg Basin, it forms an integral component of an agricultural and a natural landscape overlooking the Somerset West. The farm is divided into three zones which stretch from the banks of the Lourens River to the Hottentots Holland Mountains. The upper zone of 1100 hectares is designated for nature conservation. The central zone comprising 1200 hectares is the main productive farmland of the estate with 159.11 hectares under vineyards. The lower zone of 720 hectares comprises the wine, hospitality and cultural heritage activities of the estate. The Lourens River flows along Vergelegen’s northern boundary and is the only river in the country thus far to be declared a Protected Natural Environment. The river was a key influence to the location of Vergelegen as well as other farms along the river. Vergelegen borders the Boland Mountain Complex Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site. Within the boundaries of the estate, many endangered plant species occur in localised pockets of unique vegetation including ‘Swartland Shale Renosterveld’; ‘Lourensford Alluvium Fynbos’; ‘Boland Granite Fynbos, and wetland habitats. Over half of the estate’s land has been dedicated to conservation and has recently being declared a private nature reserve. Due to Vergelegen’s extensive clearing programme of invasive alien vegetation and commitment to ongoing environmental management, Vergelegen was the first wine farm in the country to receive champion status in the World Wildlife Fund’s Biodiversity & Wine Initiative. 

Who are we?

Sarah Winter (Archaeo-Adventures cc) has been appointed by Heritage Western Cape (HWC) in co-operation with the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) to draft an Integrated Conservation Management Plan (ICMP) to accompany the World Heritage Site (WHS) nomination of the Early Cape Farmsteads of Groot Constantia and Vergelegen. The ICMP is to be prepared in accordance with the provisions of the World Heritage Convention Act (Act 49 of 1999; WHCA) and Schedule published in the Government Gazette 39347 dated October 2015 for the Format and Procedure for the Nomination of World Heritage Sites in the Republic of South Africa, the Convention for the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention; WHC) and its Operational Guidelines, and the National Heritage Resources Act, 1999 (Act 25 of 1999; NHRA). Sarah Winter is working on this project in association with a team of heritage specialists:

Sarah Winter

Project Lead

Nicolas Baumann

Urban and conservation planner

Marianne Gertenbach

Historian and curator

Graham Jacobs

Architectural and spatial heritage specialist

Antonia Malan

Historical Archaeologist

Richard Summers

Environmental and heritage attorney

Johan van Papendorp

Landscape Architect

WORLD HERITAGE SITE NOMINATION

As farmsteads of outstanding historic and architectural significance, Groot Constantia and Vergelegen have been chosen to represent the Early Cape Farmsteads in a World Heritage Site nomination.

As the earliest examples of an idealised farmstead established at the Cape of Good Hope in the late 17th and early 18th century during the onset of globalisation, the Early Cape Farmsteads, with their physical assets relating to the exchange of ideas between various continents pertaining to agrarian settlement practices, and architectural and landscape design, became the grand set pieces which were later replicated and reinterpreted by other settlers at the Cape. The development of the Early Cape Farmsteads illustrates the evolution of human society, land-use and settlement at the Cape over time, shaped by the dramatic natural environment and the interchange between successive economic, cultural and social influences. The sites comprising the Early Cape Farmsteads have “Outstanding Universal Value” in terms of World Heritage Site criteria (ii) and (v).

Criterion (ii): 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 (see section 2 of the ICMP for the full text).

The Early Cape Farmsteads are the earliest examples of an idealised farmstead established at the Cape of Good Hope and at the southern point of Africa in the late 17th and early 18th century during the onset of globalisation associated with international trade between Europe, Africa and East Asia (Dutch and British) when the Cape of Good Hope was a victualing station of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) or Dutch East India Company (DEIC), one of the most powerful instruments of the Dutch commercial empire. Against the backdrop of VOC officialdom and allegiance that governed Company trading interests across various continents, the origins of Groot Constantia and Vergelegen are exemplary in reflecting a colonial project and the ambitions of two of its highest ranking officials through the stages of exploring, pioneering and settling the land. 

From the onset, these farmsteads developed iconic status, which they have retained, and became grand set pieces which were later replicated, albeit generally at a smaller scale. Their physical assets relate to the global exchange of ideas during the 17th and 18th centuries pertaining to agrarian settlement practices, and architectural and landscape design between Europe (especially the buitenverblijven or hofstede of Dutch patricians) and those developed by officials of the trading company and wealthy freemen at the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa, the Dutch East Indies (e.g. on the outskirts of Batavia) and the Dutch West Indies (e.g. the landhuizen on Curaçao) and some plantations in North America. 


Criterion (v): be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change (see section 2 of the ICMP for the full text). 

The Early Cape Farmsteads represent a diverse tapestry and trajectory of agricultural settlement and land use at the Cape of Good Hope spanning over 300 years of agricultural production and rural settlement. As a coherent ensemble, Groot Constantia and Vergelegen are outstanding examples of the concept of grandeur and power in rural settlement-making within the Cape Winelands context, as well as the fusion of settlement form and place, with the location of each farm adjacent to a dramatic mountain setting, some of which now form part of the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site. 

The land grants of the early Cape farms illustrated the evolution of a human society, land-use and settlement over time at the Cape of Good Hope, under the influence of an interaction with the physical constraints and opportunities presented by the natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces from four continents moulded together at the southern tip of Africa. 

Proposed Boundaries of the WHS

The properties included in the proposed Early Farmsteads of the Cape of Good Hope WHS are identified as the entire landholdings of Groot Constantia measuring 148,5802 hectares and the historical precinct of Vergelegen measuring 75.912 hectares. For the purposes of protecting the outstanding universal value of the world heritage site the following buffer areas are proposed: 

  • The properties immediately abutting Groot Constantia. 
  • The remainder of Vergelegen comprising 2940.1483 hectares.

Performance risk indicators were developed to assess the state of conservation of the primary heritage layers at each site:

  • Historic built environment 
  • Landscape elements and character 
  • Archaeological record 
  • Natural and cultural landscape setting 
  • Public associations and values

Indicators were also developed for internal and external factors/risks affecting core and buffer areas: 

  • Development pressures 
  • Environmental pressures; natural disasters and risk preparedness 
  • Visitor and tourism pressures 
  • Economic and agricultural activity pressures 

The outcome of this assessment including proposed mitigation strategies and opportunities for improving performance can be explored in detail in the Conservation Management Plan. Emerging from the assessment are a set of general conservation principles and strategic objectives for both estates, and a catalogue of measures and priorities for each estate. The levels of priority assigned strategies are immediate term (i.e. within the next financial year), short term (within 2 years), medium term (within 5 years), long term (within 10 years) and ongoing.

Groot Constantia 

Groot Constantia is under the control of the Groot Constantia Trust with the specific intention of managing and protecting the historic core as a national heritage asset including public access. Significant investments in viticulture and the restoration of the historic core have been undertaken, with the place attracting 400 000 visitors per annum. Ongoing maintenance ensures that the building fabric is generally in a good state of repair. In most respects the ICMP reinforces practices that are already in place. Recommendations are made related to the need to actively monitor and manage the new visitor route to ensure the broadening and deepening of the interpretation of the estate, including the need to foreground previously under-represented heritage themes, and the need to manage the commercial component of the estate to ensure the retention and enhancement of the experiential qualities of the historical core.

Vergelegen 

Under the ownership of Anglo American plc since 1987, there has been an enormous investment in the heritage significance and public appreciation of Vergelegen with an excellent track record in terms of best practice in heritage management, ranging from routine repair and maintenance to ensure that the buildings within the historic core are in very good condition to early detection and prevention systems to ensure best longevity for an extraordinary collection of specimen trees. In most respects the ICMP reinforces practices that are already in place, includes recommendations to further enhance performance in heritage management, as opposed to the need to mitigate any immediate risks, and aims to ensure that current best practice is upheld.

The 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention) was the product of the 1972 General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In the South African context the World Heritage Convention Act 49 of 1999 was enacted with the specific purpose of incorporating the World Heritage Convention into South African law. There is an overlap between the World Heritage Convention Act and the Protected Areas Act 57 of 2003 with regard to the management and conservation of World Heritage Sites.

Management of World Heritage Sites 

The management structure and institutional arrangements for a site declared as a World Heritage Site are determined primarily by the World Heritage Convention Act. In terms of the current institutional and regulatory arrangements the “Authority” established for the World Heritage Site in terms of the World Heritage Convention Act is effectively the management authority for the World Heritage Site. The Management Authority may be an existing organ of state or an Authority specifically established for that purpose. Examples of an organ of state could include, for example, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (Western Cape). In terms of recent precedent in South Africa the Authority could also be the relevant MEC in the Province. As the duties and powers afforded to the Management Authority in terms of the World Heritage Convention Act are potentially wide and far-reaching it is important that, in the case of privately-owned land being declared as a World Heritage Site, the consent of the landowner is obtained regarding the declaration of the Management Authority. It is also important that the precise scope of the Management Authority’s powers in connection with the World Heritage Site is negotiated in advance with the affected landowners and other stakeholders. A Management Authority is distinct from a Management Committee which might play a more specific day-to-day management functions for the site. A World Heritage Site can exist and be proclaimed by the national Minister of Environmental Affairs independently of any heritage protection in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act.

Types of regulatory protection for Groot Constantia and Vergelegen 

In the case of Groot Constantia, the entire estate is already declared a Provincial Heritage Site and, given the potential complexities with the site being required to be managed in terms of different statutes (the National Heritage Resources Act, the World Heritage Convention Act and the Protected Areas Act), it might be prudent to develop a bespoke institutional arrangement which describes the precise arrangement according to the specific requirements of the site and the stakeholders in question. The existing heritage protection in the case of Vergelegen is different in that only the five historic camphor trees, immediately adjacent to the historic homestead, are a Provincial Heritage Site. Several portions of Vergelegen have recently been declared a private nature reserve in terms of the Protected Areas Act. Vergelegen might consider some type of formal protection of the balance of the historic core or intended World Heritage Site as a Provincial Heritage Site. It may also consider the balance of their landholdings used as an agricultural zone to be formally protected as a Provincial Heritage Site to enable this to act as a buffer between the World Heritage Site area and the nature reserve. 

Implications for the designation of a buffer zone 

  1. A buffer zone is defined in the Operational Guidelines as “an area surrounding the nominated property which has complimentary legal and/or customary restrictions placed on its use and development to give an added layer of protection to the property.” The alternative options (or legal mechanisms) for the buffer zones contemplated include: The buffer zone is declared as a ‘Protected Environment’ in terms of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act. 
  2. The buffer zone is managed in terms of existing land use management controls (Heritage Protection Overlay Zone) 
  3. The buffer zone is managed as part of Sections 27 and 28 of the National Heritage Resources Act. 

Institutional and management framework

The current management bodies (the Board in the case of the Vergelegen estate and the Board of Trustees in terms of Groot Constantia) are likely to need to maintain control over the day-to-day management of the properties (subject to the reasonable requirements of the Conservation Management Plan. The current management bodies could thus be designated as the Authority responsible for day-to-day management of each site. It is proposed that both landowners are represented on one Joint Management Committee that is responsible for the implementation of those aspects of the World Heritage Convention Act and the Conservation Management Plan that are common to both sites (but that do not involve the day-to-day management of each site to be undertaken by the Management Authority for each site).