Heritage park inspires budding artists

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa's first World Heritage Site, has paid tribute to budding artists at local schools in the park as part of the iSimangaliso School Awards project.

Launched this year by the iSimangaliso authority, the awards encourage pupils from the area to experience the park and express their feelings about it.

"Aspiring artists and poets in local communities have tried to capture what iSimangaliso's lake systems, estuaries, swamp forests, 526 bird species and 25000-year-old dunes mean to them," chief executive Andrew Zaloumis said.

"iSimangaliso's unique World Heritage values are not only about nature but also about people and culture."

He said visits to schools by his staff revealed a great curiosity and interest from pupils about the heritage site and confirmed to them the importance of the park's education access programme that has seen more than 4000 pupils from 200 schools visit the park this year.

Education MEC Ina Cronjé also supported the awards, which were divided into four categories.

These were a best school, art, and writing award, plus a choir competition that provided an opportunity for powerful and beautiful young voices to pay tribute to the World Heritage Site.