iSimangaliso World Heritage Site
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is situated on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa about 275 kilometres north of Durban.
It is South Africa's third-largest protected area, spanning 280 km of coastline, from the Mozambican border in the north to Mapelane south of the St Lucia estuary, and made up of around 3,280 km² of pristine natural ecosystems, managed by the Greater Wetlands Park Authority.
The park includes the St Lucia Game Reserve, False Bay Park, St Lucia Marine Reserve, Sodwana Bay National Park, Maputaland Marine Reserve, Cape Vidal, Ozabeni, Mfabeni, Tewate Wilderness Area and Mkuze Game Reserve. Effective on 1 November 2007, the park has been renamed from the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park .
The park consists of five individual ecosystems. These ecosystems function totally independent yet fully integrated with each other.
- Marine System
Characterised by the warm Indian Ocean, containing the southernmost coral reefs in Africa, as well as sub-marine canyons and long sandy beaches.
- Eastern Shores
A coastal dune system consisting of high linear dunes and sub-tropical forests, grassy plains and wetlands.
- Lake System
Two estuary-linked lakes of St Lucia and Kosi Bay, plus the four large freshwater lakes of Lake Sibhayi, Ngobezeleni, Bhangazi north and Bhangazi south.
- Mkhuze and Umfolozi Swamps
Swamp forests and extensive reeds and papyrus marshes.
- Western Shores
Ancient shoreline terraces and dry savanna woodlands.
In 1895, St. Lucia Game Reserve, 30 km north of the town was proclaimed.
In 1971, St. Lucia Lake and the turtle beaches and coral reefs of Maputaland have been listed by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention).
In December 1999, The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the 1 November 2007, the park was renamed to iSimangaliso Wetland Park.