UNESCO World Heritage Committee Vote On Okavango Delta Today!

Please post your comments in support of UNESCO World Heritage Listing for Botswana’s Okavango Delta below this blog!

Here is a message from our Okavango Wilderness Project partner, Dr Karen Ross (African Wildlife Foundation/Wilderness Foundation/ Deustche Umwelthilfe), currently in Doha (Qatar) with the Botswana delegation for today’s vote:

The big moment for the Okavango Delta has finally arrived! Botswana’s nomination for this unique, magnificent and vulnerable wetland will finally be heard at the 38th Session of the World Heritage Committee today, 22nd June, in Doha during their 2014 session. See http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/1143

There is a strong Botswana delegation present for this event, including the Minister for Environment Tshekedi Khama, the Botswana Ambassador to Qatar, Director of Museums who have shepherded the nomination, and several members of the Okavango Technical Committee who were involved through the years of the consultative process, and crafted the detailed Nomination Dossier. The tension is visibly rising, and tomorrow we will all know the verdict that is delivered by the 21 State party sitting World Heritage Committee.

The Dossier and the map of the designated site will be posted on this website following the news today. So please keep your eyes on this post for breaking news today!

LandSat 1979
Satellite image of the Okavango Delta from 1979 shows very similar flood levels to the massive 2010 floods. It is hard to imagine what kind of delta existed when this satellite image was taken. A vast, untouched wilderness filled with the abundance of life. We need to do everything we can to keep it this way… (LandSat 1979)

This is an important moment for Africa’s natural heritage and the end of almost a decade of advocacy, stakeholder meetings and scientific research in support of long overdue designation as a World Heritage Site. The Okavango Delta is Africa’s last-remaining wetland wilderness, a primordial landscape that connect us to eternity and remembers a time before modern man. The next step is the establishment of a system of protected areas within a multi-national UNESCO World Heritage that includes the entire Kavango Basin, thus preserving the world’s largest undeveloped river catchment before dams, irrigation schemes, rice production, sugar cane, mining and population increase threaten this sensitive wetland ecosystem, Africa’s premier wilderness area…

Steve Boyes
Migrating elephants spread across the fertile floodplains of Mombo where some of the world’s most pristine wilderness remains… (Steve Boyes)

Human Journey

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Steve Boyes has dedicated his life to conserving Africa's wilderness areas and the species that depend upon them. After having worked as a camp manager and wilderness guide in the Okavango Delta and doing his PhD field work on the little-known Meyer's Parrot, Steve took up a position as a Centre of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. He has since been appointed the Scientific Director of the Wild Bird Trust and is a 2014 TED Fellow. His work takes him all over Africa, but his day-to-day activities are committed to South Africa's endemic and Critically Endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). Based in Hogsback Village in the Eastern Cape (South Africa), Steve runs the Cape Parrot Project, which aims to stimulate positive change for the species through high-quality research and community-based conservation action. When not in Hogsback, Steve can be found in the Okavango Delta where he explores remote areas of this wetland wilderness on "mokoros" or dug-out canoes to study endangered bird species in areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Steve is a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work in the Okavango Delta and on the Cape Parrot Project.