Cape Town Fires: UNESCO Regional Director visits affected areas
The UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen visits the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas and University of Cape Town (South Africa) on 11 May 2021 to assess the damage caused by the fires that broke out last month.
The fires that started on 18 April 2021 on the slopes of Table Mountain affected the World Heritage Site and destroyed several buildings on the campus of the University of Cape Town. These included the Jagger Library, as well as the restaurant at Rhodes Memorial, the historic Mostert’s Mill, and several residential houses.
Listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas are recognised among the most special places for plants in the world in terms of diversity, density and number of endemic species. The property is a highly distinctive phytogeographic unit which is regarded as one of the six Floral Kingdoms of the world and is by far the smallest and relatively the most diverse.
The Director for Africa World Heritage Fund, Mr. Souayibou Varissou will accompany Prof. Gijzen during the tour of the Heritage site’s affected areas. Discussions with the Site managers and other officials will focus on rehabilitation of the site as well measures to avoid similar disasters in future.
At Cape Town University, the UNESCO Regional Director will meet with the Vice Chancellor and senior officials visit to the affected buildings and archives. Discussions will focus on digitalisation of special collections and putting in place effective disaster risk reduction measures.
UNESCO has been in contact with the site managers of Table Mountain National Park and Cape Floral Region Protected Areas and requested a preliminary assessment to show the damage and impact of the fires on the sites as well as the Jagger Reading Room in the University of Cape library. The Regional Director’s visit is expected to firm up things and mobilise support for the affected areas.