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What is Heritage Management?
“Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.” – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The term ‘heritage’ has various interpretations, which ultimately depend on the background and interests of the stakeholder.
It can be tangible or intangible, movable or immovable, old or new, owned privately, communally, corporately, or not at all.
In the past, heritage ‘properties’ were often thought of as individual buildings or monuments, such as churches and temples. Today it is generally recognised that the whole environment (or site) of a heritage property is important and has been influenced by its interaction with humanity.
You may be familiar with World Heritage sites like the Angkor Temples, the Great Barrier Reef, Yellowstone National Park, Stonehenge, and the Galapagos Islands.
Whilst physical structures generally come to mind when considering heritage, intangible forms are equally important in many cultures. Intangible heritage represents the living culture of communities, it’s components of its intrinsic identity, and its uniqueness and distinctiveness in comparison with all other human groups.
Why Manage Heritage?
The broadening of properties under the heritage ‘umbrella’ has dramatically increased the number of places and landscapes that require preservation, stewardship, and promotion.
There has also been an increase in complexities and threats to heritage properties in recent times, such as tourism, climate change, human conflict, and resource constraints.
The practice of heritage management might involve strategic and financial planning, disaster preparation, and people, project and site management.
It might also include fundraising, arts sponsorship, external funding, and the marketing of heritage sites.
Ultimately, heritage management is the practice of preserving, protecting and promoting heritage in its various forms.
The Past, Present, and Future
Heritage shapes people’s lives, feelings, emotions, hopes, and memories. It can teach us about cultures and peoples of the past… how they lived, the challenges they faced, and how they overcame them.
Heritage is also, therefore, a powerful lens through which to extract lessons from the past. Importantly, those lessons can be applied to understand and tackle present and future world challenges, such as climate change, migration, conflict, and decolonisation.
Sources and Further Reading
MA International Heritage Management and Consultancy at the University of Exeter
UNESCO website: http://whc.unesco.org/
UNESCO Guide — Managing Cultural World Heritage: http://whc.unesco.org/en/managing-cultural-world-heritage/
Lenzerini F. Intangible Cultural Heritage: The Living Culture of Peoples. European Journal of International Law, Volume 22, Issue 1, 1 February 2011, Pages 101–120.