Minister Meyer Visits the West Coast Fossil Park
Dr Ivan Meyer, Provincial Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, yesterday visited the West Coast Fossil Park to give impetus to the process that will see the fossil park being declared a World Heritage Site.
In October 1996, the National Monuments Council declared the Langebaanweg Palaeontological Site a National Monument under section 10 of the National Monuments Act, 1969. Since its declaration, however, the property surrounding the declared PHS, owned and managed by the West Coast Fossil Park Council, has numerous times faced the threat of mining activities.
Heritage Western Cape has therefore thought it expedient to amend the boundaries for the existing PHS to include the remaining property owned and managed by the West Coast Fossil Park.
The West Coast Fossil Park at Langebaanweg is a research and palaeotourism venture at a 5-million-year-old fossil bed. These fossils have achieved international acclaim by scientists for their superb preservation, abundance and richness in diversity to the extent that this locality is now widely regarded as possibly the most important Early Pliocene terrestrial fossil occurrence in the world.
According to Dr Meyer, "Evidence suggests that there is no other site that has as much detailed evidence of the variety of life existing along the Southern African West Coast c 5 million years ago. The fossil sites of Langebaanweg have exceptionally well-preserved remains of fossil fauna. This represents possibly the greatest diversity of 5-million-year-old fossils found anywhere in the world." This is echoed by the Manager of the Fossil Park, Pippa Haarhoff, who believes that " given the uniqueness of the site there is no reason why a process should not be started to have the West Coast Fossil Park declared a World Heritage Site".
During his visit, Dr Meyer also highlighted the potential economic impact that a rejuvenated fossil park could have on the cultural tourism industry of the West Coast region.