Articles Posted in the Conservation category

World recognition for a very special desert

July 3, 2007
Posted in Conservation

halfmens.jpg South Africa got its eighth World Heritage Site last week, the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape in the Northern Cape province. The 160,000-hectares of mountainous desert in the far northwest of the country is part of the succulent Karoo biodiversity hotspot. It also sustains the semi-nomadic pastoral lifestyle of the Nama people.

It is the only area where the Nama still construct portable houses, haru oms (pictured below), a practice that was once much more widespread in Southern Africa and is thought to have persisted for at least two thousand years.

The Unesco World Heritage Committee described the Nama’s communally grazed lands as an example of “a harmonious interaction between people and nature”. It said they were “a testimony to land management processes which have ensured the protection of the succulent Karoo vegetation”.

The portable houses of the Nama people
The succulent Karoo ecosystem has 4,849 succulent plants, 40% of which are found nowhere else. One notable is the halfmens tree Pachypodium namaquanum (pictured above).

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