Celebrating our Natural Heritage this Heritage Day

Magaliesberg landscape

Heritage Day was created as a day to celebrate our diverse cultural heritage across South Africa – a day to proudly don traditional garb and reflect on who we are and where we came from, or to simply enjoy a day in the sun around the braai. I’d like to suggest a new angle for the day: that of our natural heritage.

The word ‘heritage’ refers to ‘what we inherit from the past and what we value’. It is a ‘set of all things, places and ideas we have inherited from the past that are special to a community, including both natural and human-built elements, and that are important to protect for future generations.’ Without doubt then, our natural heritage is something we should be reflecting on and revelling in.

South Africa is not short on natural heritage. With 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within our borders, we are spoilt with a diverse range of spectacular areas and biodiversity that we can rightly be very proud about. Outside these areas there are numerous other reserves, conservancies and relatively untainted landscapes to enjoy. Unfortunately, issues such as urban sprawl, bad land management practises, wildlife poaching, pollution and others are threatening some of these spaces and their fauna and flora.

With our heritage in the spotlight this month, I believe it’s a perfect time to take a moment to acknowledge the great natural resources we have in this country and then take steps to conserve it for our children and all future generations. Learn about and get involved with organisations that are already doing great work in the conservation field. Stand up against wildlife poaching and pollution. Support communities who look after their open spaces and teach your children to appreciate nature.

When things are important to us, we naturally want to preserve them – let’s make our natural heritage as important to us as our cultural traditions.

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