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 user 2005-07-22 at 11:37:00 am Views: 49
  • #12149
    U.N. Protects World’s Oldest Meteorite Crater

    JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (July 05) – The world’s oldest meteorite crater was added Thursday to the United Nation’s list of protected world heritage sites, joining wonders like Mount Everest and the Great Wall of China, the South African government said.

    The decision was taken at the 29th session of the U.N. Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Committee, which is taking place this week in Durban.

    The vast crater southwest of Johannesburg was formed when a massive meteorite over 10 kilometers (6 miles) in size crashed into Earth some 2 billion years ago. Known as The Vredefort Dome, it was originally roughly 380 kilometers (236 miles) wide, but has eroded away to about 140 kilometers (87 miles) spanning two provinces.

    The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism said it would invest 18 million rands (US$2.7 million; 2.2 million) preserving and developing the site, including eradicating alien vegetation, building hiking trails and a tourism center.

    It is South Africa’s seventh World Heritage Site. Others include the Sterkfontein caves, home to hominid fossils dating back some 3.5 million years, and Robben Island, where the country’s first black president Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27 years in jail.

    UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is responsible for implementing the 1972 U.N. Convention on the protection of cultural and natural sites around the world. Forty-two new sites were proposed for inclusion on the World Heritage List at this week’s meeting. The list already protected 788 sites.