Visitors stand outside the main building of Maropeng, the official visitor centre of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.
THE Maropeng visitors’ centre in the Cradle of Humankind is undergoing a landscaping upgrade to make it more user-friendly for tourists.

The site will contain aggregate pathways, sculptures, benches and picnic areas for use by the public, against a scenic backdrop of indigenous trees.

The pathways have been cast and endemic plants that make up the fauna and flora planted.

FSG, the landscape contractor, noted that the site was very sensitive so an ecologist removed the top layer of soil and certain plants and stored them safely until after the earthworks were completed. The soil will be supplemented with water retention agents and microbes alongside some other products to ensure the best viability of vulnerable and protected species.

The aim of the project is to give visitors the impression that the picnic site has been in existence for centuries, while FSG’s ongoing site maintenance will ensure the area remains pristine, it said.

More than 200 custom-designed and cut granite blocks each of a different size make up the seating designed by GREENinc landscape architecture, while preparing the surface correctly was critical to create the correct levels of the blocks.

Among the sculptures planned for the site is a large sculpture of a stone axe, alongside a slightly smaller sculpture of a stone blade, which stand to remind us how far we have come as a species, and serve as a beautiful tribute to our humble beginnings as intelligent life forms in the area.

“Reminiscent of the challenges faced by our forefathers in the Stone Age, FSG was greeted by the spirit of Maropeng and has embraced each challenge the land has presented, working respectfully with nature and adapting accordingly,” it said.

Dolerite and quartzite are among the rocks exposed which it said was exciting “because those are the same rock types most commonly used to make stone tools by our human ancestors”.

Maropeng is the official visitor centre of the Cradle of Humankind and the Sterkfontein Caves.

The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is an area where our ancestors have been found to have lived for more than 3million years. - Staff Reporter