Rating programme keeps Maropeng environmentally sound
Maropeng operates in a manner that minimises its impact on the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site as well as the environment as a whole. It follows an environmental management programme tailored for the travel and leisure market, the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme.
The facilities at Maropeng include a visitor centre, a 24-bedroom hotel and conference facilities for up to 500 delegates. On average, 800 visitors pass through the Sterkfontein Caves and Maropeng visitor centre daily and the hotel achieves an average 60% occupancy. This level of human traffic raises the potential for serious damage to an international heritage treasure.
The Cradle of Humankind has yielded some of the world’s most valuable palaeo-anthropological evidence, including the renowned hominid fossil of “Mrs Ples”, estimated to be over 2-million years old. It covers an area of over 47,000 hectares of mostly privately owned land, encompassing 13 fossil hominid sites, including Sterkfontein, Swartkrans and Kromdraai.
The visitor centre at Maropeng takes visitors on a journey of discovery of the origins of mankind, concluding with an original fossil display. The hotel and Tumulus conference centre (built to resemble an ancient burial mound) are popular with both local and international visitors.
The potential of such an attraction for South African tourism is unanimously acknowledged, but what many fail to consider is that the other purpose of Maropeng is to educate visitors on the importance of preserving our earth and the species that share it with us. Maropeng itself promotes the message of “taking sustainability seriously” and the decision to participate in an independent verification process puts this into practice.
As a member of the rating programme, Maropeng will undergo regular independent reviews of its business practices and sustainability, from procurement and employment to operational issues such as recycling, energy and water use. The assessment and benchmarking standards applied by Heritage have been developed over the past nine years using local and international best practice in environmental stewardship, including ISO14001, and are aimed at developing world-class responsible business practice.
The Heritage Programme is recognised by the UN World Tourism Organisation and is partnered with the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa in the Imvelo Awards held annually to recognise and reward sustainable and responsible tourism standards in Southern Africa.