Legislative protection of cultural heritage resources: A South African perspective
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South Africa abounds with a wide variety of heritage resources. These resources manifest the variety of groups that make up South Africa’s rich culture, heritage and diverse political scenery. According to South African legislation, historical and cultural resources fall within the scope of the natural environment for the purposes of environmental law. This paper will deal with provisions of the National Heritage Resources Act, the 1996 Constitution and international law for the conservation and protection of human made objects, human modifications of the natural environment, natural sites and systems of knowledge in South Africa. A comparison will furthermore be drawn between relevant conservation legislation before and after 1996. The practice and desire to conserve the aforementioned are sensitive political considerations. A sensible rationale for the protection of heritage resources may arguably be to foster a sense of national pride, unity and identity. This is a theme that is prevalent in the National Heritage Resources Act, prevailing recognized international law and the 1996 Constitution. The following conclusions are reached: · A three tier system of heritage resource management is provided for that results in effective protection and conservation on national, provincial and local government levels; · Through a national strategy employed by enabling legislation, heritage resources are adequately protected; · Present legislation successfully promotes good management of the national estate without being mutually exclusive, enabling communities to conserve their legacy.
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