Levende cultuurlandschappen als Werelderfgoed | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 4, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2468-2187
  • E-ISSN: 2468-2195


Continuing landscapes as World Heritage

The World Heritage Convention was adopted by UNESCO in 1972, in a period of growing awareness of the international dimensions of environment and heritage. However, it was also a period in which European visions of heritage were still dominant, for example on themes such as authenticity and the distinction between nature and culture. The World Heritage List, resulting from the Convention, put the initiative for inscriptions by state parties, leading to a bias towards unproblematic and tourism-oriented objects. In all these aspects, almost half a century of discussions brought changing ideas. The European emphasis on material authenticity and the division between nature and culture were challenged by practices from Asia and Africa. The role of the nation state became less important by global exchanges of ideas and by local and regional initiatives. The protection of cultural landscapes, particularly that of ‘living’ or ‘continuing’ landscapes, was only possible by a movement from protection towards ‘management of change’. The problem of management of such landscapes is illustrated in five case studies of cultural landscapes that are, or prepare to be, World Heritage Sites: Dresden, the rice terraces of the Cordilleras, the Beemster polder, the Altes Land near Hamburg and the Dutch/Belgian Colonies of Benevolence. The conclusion is that change within World Heritage Sites is possible but needs to be done with caution and with a sense of quality, preferably by involving landscape architects. Rather than the authentic remains of an original situation, the argument should be based on ideas such as layeredness of landscapes and path dependency in developments.


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