The National Heritage Resource Act (1999): Can legislation protect South Africa's rare geoheritage resources?
In South Africa, rare geological specimens are protected by the National Heritage Resource Act (1999). These portable geoheritage objects are neither defined nor described in this Act making their geoheritage status questionable. Thirteen categories and criteria for establishing a geological specimen's rarity status are discussed and include (1) rarity as defined by abundance per se; (2) rarity of a particular habit (external shape or form) of a mineral; (3) rare pseudomorphs; (4) rarity of a particular variety of a mineral; (5) rarity of a particular colour of a common mineral; (6) rarity defined by size; (7) rarity defined by quality; (8) a common species, but rare for a particular locality; (9) rarity of associations of minerals; (10) rarity determined by source being depleted, exhausted or mined out; (11) rare inclusions in minerals; (12) previously rare, now common specimens and (13) miscellaneous criteria that produce rare specimens. Geological specimens (resources) are complex objects when defining their rarity status and multiple rarity factors can apply to single specimens. A lack of clear criteria for defining rare geological specimens appears to place the National Heritage Resource Act (1999) in direct conflict with the more recent Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (2002) which legitimizes the legal exploitation of any mineral resource.
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