A web-based GIS as a management tool for rock art sites in the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park.
The importance of managing and conserving cultural heritage can not be overemphasised. It is this realisation that has prompted the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to declare identified sites of cultural importance as World Heritage Sites. The uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park (UDP) was declared such a site in 2000, with its natural properties and cultural heritage as the criteria for inscription. The cultural heritage centres on the vast quantity of rock art that is renowned for its quality and diversity of subject. It is an important consideration for future generations to have the opportunity to view and understand this rich history and culture. There are increasing human and natural impacts on this non-renewable resource and to minimise these impacts and thus ensure the longevity of the resource it is necessary to develop a multi faceted selection of management and conservation tools. This realisation led the Programme of Geornatics, University of KwaZulu-Natal to conceptualise a project to develop a web-based Geographical Information System (GIS) specifically aimed at assisting in the management and conservation of rock art sites for the Valley of Pools in the Cathedral Peak Conservation Area of the UDP. Data for the project was captured in the field using Global Positioning System (GPS), digital camera and video camera as well as conventional hardcopy documentation. Existing digital spatial data and descriptive data were also collected from relevant stakeholders and a commercial organization. A pilot spatial database was then developed using ArcGIS@9 and Microsoft Access@, and later tested using a set of integrated simulated queries reflective of routine questions that users may request. Upon obtaining satisfactory responses to the queries, the integrated database was migrated and authored in ArcIMS®9 where it was further tested, and subsequently access was given to selected external professionals, both nationally and internationally, from various backgrounds, for evaluation purposes. Feedback from this process was favourably obtained.