The Chamber is:

  an independent, non-political, subscription-based association dedicated to promoting a business-friendly environment;

  an impartial, credible non-profit association, which enables it to negotiate contracts and secure funding for projects that benefit its community;

  comprised of members from every sector of the economy, ranging from small entrepreneurs to large corporates;

  involved in a number of initiatives to promote regional development, enterprise and skills development, training and business advisory services




Barberton Makhonjwa Mountainlands World Heritage Site


Natural significance

The world-class heritage of the region’s geology – 3 200 million to 3 600 million year-old rocks, in unsurpassed state of preservation, contain the best sequence of the world’s oldest geological record available on earth. These highly accessible Archaean exposures present a continuous 350 million year sequence of rocks. Scientific research from the Barberton Mountain Lands has provided the earliest records of how the earth’s crust was formed. It is currently in the process of redefining the date for the first occurrence of life on earth – an astonishing one billion years earlier than previously estimated. Here evidence has been found of one of the first massive meteorite impacts possibly related to the formation of our moon. Tidal traces billions of years old are so precisely recorded they allow for calculation of changes in the distance between the earth and the moon. The Barberton Mountain Lands is the only place on earth where the development of the early earth crust and evolution of life itself can be studied. This is truly the place where life began.

This area is of “… natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity. As such, the permanent protection of this heritage is of the highest importance to the international community as a whole.” (Section 49 of the UNESCO World Heritage Council Guidelines).

MAP: World Heritage Site is based on the underlying Archaean geological formation or Barberton Supergroup shown here.



The Barberton Mountain Lands is therefore currently in the process of gaining UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site. The outstanding universal value of the site has already been recognised and the site placed on UNESCO's tentative list after approval by the Mpumalanga Cabinet and a request submitted by South Africa.

he final World Heritage Site Nomination Dossier is currently being compiled through a widely participative process. It is expected that the final submission to UNESCO will be made around 2012/3.

The BATOBIC Programme has made funds and capacity available to support the Project Steering Committee who is compiling final Nomination Dossier.

MAP: The project area currently being investigated to determine the final boundaries of the the BMML World Heritage Site.


Developmental importance

While the process to finalise UNESCO World Heritage Site status is underway the BATOBIC Programme is ensuring that the area benefits economically from its rich natural and cultural heritage, including the World Heritage Site. The projects of the BATOBIC Programme are designed to lay the developmental foundations of the World Heritage Site by showcasing the heritage of the area and packaging it for tourism consumption.

The existence of the World Heritage Site brings both opportunities in the form of global recognition and tourism but also brings challenges to ensure sustainability and protection of the heritage of the area. These are just some of the considerations that are core to the BATOBIC Programme to ensure integration with the World Heritage Site objectives.


Further information

... Visit UNESCO website at

... Visit website of the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountainlands World Heritage

... Download Genesis of Life - Makhonjwa Heritage Project Brochure, May 2009, PDF (2.7mb)

... Download UNESCO Tentative list acceptance, 6 June 2008, PDF (207kb)

... Download Barberton / Makhonjwa Mountain Land World Heritage Site, Tentative ... List Submission, November 2007, PDF (796kb)

... Download Strategic Overview - From Barberton Mountainlands to World Heritage, 19 May 2006, PDF (332kb)