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11-12 December 2007

International Expert Workshop on Integrity and Authenticity of World Heritage Cultural Landscapes

World Heritage Experts Meeting
Aranjuez, Spain

The constructs of authenticity and integrity are related but separate. As defined, authenticity as “truthfully and credibly expressed through attributes” of the cultural heritage include tangible and intangible as listed in the Operational Guidelines:

  • Form and design;
  • Materials and substance;
  • Use and function;
  • Traditions, techniques and management systems;
  • Location and setting;
  • Language, and other forms of intangible heritage;
  • Spirit and feeling; and
  • Other internal and external factors.

While this list is helpful, a missing element for cultural landscapes is an explicit reference to the natural landscapes in terms of systems, landforms, and other aspects that formed the basis for the development of “combined works of humanity and nature”, the cultural landscape.  Looking at the cultural landscapes character and character-defining features, experts use the following more explicit listing to address the tangible aspects:

  • Land Uses and Activities
  • Response to Natural Features
  • Visual Relationships, Views, Vistas
  • Patterns of Spatial Organization
  • Cluster Arrangements
  • Landforms and Topography
  • Vegetation Cover
  • Circulation Systems and Networks
  • Water Features and Drainage
  • Buildings. Bridges, Walls, other Structures
  • Small-scale Features

This more detailed, landscape-based list may be an aid in understanding cultural landscape heritage in terms of how it fits and fails to fit into the listing provided for authenticity in the WH Operational Guidelines.

The tangible aspects of material forms and elements can serve as the vessels, repositories and physical expressions of intangible values.  Directly linking the authenticity of cultural landscapes to the criteria, Outstanding Universal Values for which it was inscribed by is an operational approach to shaping the management of cultural landscapes. Further a clear enumeration of the intangible values that shaped the cultural landscape and may continue to act upon it is a necessary component of the inscription documentation. Diverse intangible values are imbedded in cultural landscapes as the”traditions, techniques and management systems, sspirit and feeling, llanguage, and other forms of intangible heritage” also listed above but perhaps a greater clarity in this listing and better organization of tangible and intangible elements would aid in making the WH Operational Guidelines more readily applied and more effectively used.

When a detailed description of the aspects of cultural landscape authenticity is expressed in the explanation of the criteria for listing and in the statement of Outstanding Universal Value for the landscape, managing continuity and change comes from that foundation for measuring authenticity as recognized in the nomination criteria proposed.

As defined in the WH Operational Guidelines integrity focuses attention of the degree of “wholeness and intactness of the natural and/or cultural heritage and its attributes”. In this consideration the element of time arises. Does the cultural landscape communicate its unique identity and values through the character it had at the historic time that it gained heritage values, at the time of its inscription, or as the character it has now as evolved? By definition the evolved landscape is the product of many people over time and tracing and enumerating the origins, evolution and current form may all be relevant to the integrity of the evolved continuing landscape, its inscription and its management. The designed landscape may be most closely related to the time of its design and original implementation. And the associative cultural landscape may be continuing as the object of the art, literature, spiritual beliefs and inspiration of a contemporary culture or may be relict.

Interpretation, telling the stories of the cultural landscape, is directly associated with an authentic experience of the place. The degree of integrity of the cultural landscape is a strong predictor of the interpretive approach to communicating the tangible and intangible values.  When the values remain intact, interpretation simply points attention to those tangible and intangible expressions. When the cultural landscape has lower integrity, the interpretive approach can be more creative and elaborate linking stories to remaining and missing aspects of the cultural landscape facilitate greater understanding, engagement and a heightened sense of values.

By using a few examples from Heritage Landscapes’ work, O’Donnell highlighted aspects of cultural landscape authenticity and integrity to foster discussion. For example, at Valley Forge National Historical Park the National Park Service General Management Plan recognizes and accepts evolution of this 3,500 cultural landscape to the present and views the landscape. As a sacred ground this historic site where events of importance to the formation of the United States occurred, cannot be returned to the character and conditions it expressed in during the Revolutionary War Winter Encampment when it served as the forging ground for the army that went on to win the war of independence. The pre-war agricultural and industrial were also present during this important time, and natural resources and systems influenced history. This landscape is authentic, and landscape attributes remain from the historic period but overall integrity to that time is low. Contemporary values are multiple, with the Revolutionary War Encampment as the first value in an integrated planning approach to landscape management. 

For Shelburne Farms, a 1400 acre designed estate and ornamental farm, the issues of authenticity and integrity are linked to the original design and the stewardship of the original owners. The contemporary mission and vision of this property is to practice sustainable agricultural and environmental stewardship while respecting the historic cultural landscape.  Historic values coexist alongside contemporary and future ones.

For the Towns of Guilford, Connecticut and Somers, New York and the Village of Riverside, Illinois, vernacular and designed historic communities, the character and aspects of the communities are valued as wonderful places to live. Developing a shared understanding of the tangible cultural and natural landscape resources within these communities aids them in ongoing stewardship.  Authenticity is linked locally to the tangible and intangible qualities of daily life. Integrity may be understood as a quality of life issue in the management of change so that shared values persist into the future.

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