What you need to know:
- Tanzania is as rich as it is diverse in tourism resources and in gearing up to the fiftieth anniversary of the World Heritage Convention, newer sites are soon to join the list
Arusha. More heritage sites of outstanding universal value have been identified in the country.
This is as Tanzania prepares to host a major world heritage conference for the African region next month.
The sites identified will add to the seven sites, mainly the national parks and historical ruins, already elevated as world heritage properties.
“Studies are being finalised to see if the proposed sites meet the benchmarks,” said Kevin Robert, an expert with the United Nations Educational,Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Dar es Salaam.
He added that one of the benchmarks was that there should be no conflict with the local communities on ownership of the sites.
Once cleared, the proposed areas would be preserved and protected for tourism and research purposes.
Among the proposed sites for elevation to the world heritage list is Gombe National Park in Kigoma region, the home of the chimpanzees.
Others are the long slave and ivory trade route from Bagamoyo to Kigoma and Jozani-Chwaka nature reserve in Zanzibar.
Yet to be included is Oldonyo Murwak, a famous site for the Maasai rituals in Hai district, Kilimanjaro region.
The Amani Nature Reserve in Tanga region is among the areas being considered for elevation to the status for its ecological niche.
Robert said it was the prerogative of the government to elevate the sites for protection with technical support from UNESCO.
He added; “UNESCO sets out the duties of each country’s governments to identify potential sites, protect and preserve them.”
Tanzania is a signatory to the 1972 World Heritage Convention whose primary goal is to conserve natural and cultural properties.
“Tanzania was one of the earliest states to ratify the convention because we have a wide variety of world heritage properties,” he added.
These include three national parks; Serengeti, Kilimanjaro and Nyerere and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA).
Others are the Zanzibar Stone Town, the Kilwa Kisiwani-Songo Mnara ruins and the Kondoa Rock Art in Dodoma region.
Robert, a scientific expert, was emphatic that protection and preservation of the heritage sites would boost the country’s tourism.
However, he cited scarcity of financial and technological resources as among the factors impacting the drive.
Other challenges are increased human activities around the sites and delays by the government to remit mandatory funds to UNESCO.
The UN agency would mark the fiftieth anniversary since the signing of the World Heritage Convention with a conference in Arusha next month.
The conference is dubbed ‘Empowering African Heritage Professionals’.
“The forum will take stock of achievements of the Convention’s achievements,” said Joshua Mwankunda, a senior official of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA).
NCA, a multi-use conservation area in Arusha region, is rich in both natural and cultural resources of outstanding global value.
These include its famous craters and crater lakes,the Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli footprints and highland forests.