News Archives - January 2011

January 2011

World Heritage Committee inscribes Ngorongoro Conservation Area as Cultural World Heritage Site
The 34th session of the World Heritage Committee which met in Brasilia in July 2010, inscribed the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as a cultural property on the World Heritage List. Previously, it was inscribed on the World Heritage List as a natural site, since 1979. The Committee made its decision because of the extraordinary record of human evolution at the site, which spans a vast area of land from the Serengeti National Park in the north-west of Tanzania to the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley. The area was established in 1959 as a multiple land use area, with wildlife coexisting with semi-nomadic Maasai pastoralists practicing traditional livestock grazing. It includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the world's largest caldera, and Olduvai Gorge, a 14km long deep ravine which is one of the world's most important pre-historic sites, where anthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey made many of their greatest discoveries.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area has been subject to extensive archaeological research for over 80 years and has yielded a long sequence of evidence of human evolution and human-environment dynamics, collectively spanning almost four million years to the early modern era. This evidence includes the fossilized footprints at Laetoli associated with the development of the human ability to walk upright, a sequence of diverse evolving hominid species from Australopiths to Homo erectus and Homo sapiens; and remains that document the development of stone technology and the transition to the use of iron. The overall landscape of the area is seen to have the potential to reveal much more evidence concerning the rise of anatomically modern humans, modern behavior and human ecology.

The area has outstanding universal values for biodiversity conservation in view of the presence of globally threatened species such as the black rhino, the density of wildlife inhabiting Ngorongoro Crater and the surrounding areas throughout the year, and the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, Thompson's and Grant's gazelles and other ungulates into the northern plains. Those values, plus the stunning landscape of Ngorongoro Crater, had formed the basis for its initial status which was natural World Heritage Site.