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Namib Sand Sea
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The Namib Sand Sea was officially inscribed a World Heritage site 2013. The second World Heritage site in Namibia in addition to the Twyfelfontain Rock engravings. The Namib Sand Sea (NSS) lies along the southern coast of the Atlantic Ocean and also within the protected Namib-Naukluft Park where access is limited as there are very few roads in the vicinity. It covers an area of 3,077,700 hectares, with an additional 899,500 hectares designated as a buffer zone. The Namib Sand Sea offers a stunning landscape derived from a combination of geological, geomorphic and climatological processes (National Commission for UNESCO, 2012; UNESCO; 2013).
Geological: The dunescapes does not only consist of sand, but it also features gravel plains, coastal flats, rocky hills, inselbergs within the sand sea, a coastal lagoon and ephemeral rivers, resulting in a landscape of exceptional beauty (National Commission for UNESCO, 2012; UNESCO, 2013).
Geomorphic: The Namib is a very dry desert. The unique and endemic animal and plant life have learned to adapt to the harsh environment. It scarcely rains in the area and fog is the primary source of water. Many species have developed ways of catching the atmospheric water that comes ashore as fog, so they can survive without rain. And they have evolved special ways of living in the ever-changing dunes, ‘swimming’ and ‘diving’ into the sub-surface sand to escape the scorching heat and the risk of predation (National Commission for UNESCO, 2012 ;UNESCO 2013).
Climatological: The desert dunes are formed by the transportation of materials thousands of kilometres from the vicinity that are carried by river, ocean current and wind (National Commission for UNESCO, 2012; UNESCO,2013) Image 1: The Namib Desert meets the sea (Namib Sand Sea)
The Namib Sand Sea made it to the UNESCO World Heritage List because of its aesthetic value ´exceptional beauty´and it is also a symbol of National pride which should be preserved for the present and future generations.There are sixteen distinctive dune types that are recognized across the three main zones of the sand sea, with transverse (oblique) dunes in the coastal strip, linear dunes in the centre and star dune systems in the east. This diversity of dune formations creates a spectacular dunescape with a unique interaction of shape, varying colour, movement and a unique habitat (National Commission for UNESCO, 2012; UNESCO 2013). Therefore, if you are looking for solidute or loneliness, this is the place to come to.
The Namib Sand Sea lies in the potential diamond area which has been protected for years. The Namib is a vast inaccessible and uninhabited area with fog hovering around the desert dunes that makes it difficult for exploration or exploitation. There are no roads or facilities of any kind within the world heritage site, just scenic dunescapes as far as the eye can see. The undisturbed state is due to the extreme prevailing conditions and difficulty of access. However, some elite tourists have the opportunity to fly over the Namib Sand Sea, but they have to pay a high for the permits. Today the area is protected within the Namib Naukluft Park, with some limited use of desert plants and animals around the edges of the property (buffer zone) by indigenous communities and a growing tourism hotel establishments. Key management issues today include managing the increasing demand for visitor access to pristine areas and preventing mineral exploration rights that would impact on the values and attributes of the area, controlling alien plants (especially along the seasonal rivers) and managing local community access rights. Since his area is a desert and does not receive good rain, water resources require careful management if the few seasonal rivers that penetrate the area are going to be maintained. Management of tourism, especially around Sossusvlei and the Sesriem area (where three quarters of the park’s visitors are concentrated) presents some challenges, and there is a need to enhance management capacity and visitor management in this area particularly. Despite very low levels of management intervention the unique ecological values of the site remain largely intact and pristine (National Commission for UNESCO, 2012).
Image 2: Location of the World Heritage site
Centre, U. (2013). Namib Sand Sea - UNESCO World Heritage Centre. [online] Whc.unesco.org. Available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1430/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2014].
Namibia National Commission for UNESCO, Ministry of Education, (2012). Namib Sand Sea - World Heritage Nomination. Windhoek: Namibia National Committee for World Heritage.
Image 1: Audleyblog.com, (2014). [online] Available at: http://www.audleyblog.com/wordpress/...ib_map_420.jpg [Accessed 18 Nov. 2014].
Image 2: Twistedsifter.files.wordpress.com, (2014). [online] Available at: http://twistedsifter.files.wordpress...from-above.jpg [Accessed 18 Nov. 2014].
By: Wilhelmina Asino
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