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September 2012

IFLA 49th World Congress

"UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape Recommendation: An Integrated Approach to Urban Heritage for a Sustainable Future"
Patricia M. O'Donnell, IFLA Cultural Landscapes Committee, and
Michael Turner, ICOMOS Israel, UNESCO Chair Urban Design & Conservation Studies

Cape Town, South Africa

"Twenty Years of World Heritage Cultural Landscapes"
Patricia M. O'Donnell, FASLA, AICP, IFLA, ICOMOS, with
Gregory W. De Vries, ASLA, ICOMOS
Sarah LeVaun Graulty, MSHP, ICOMOS

Cape Town, South Africa

The UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape Recommendation is the first comprehensive statement about urban form, values and integration since 1974. In this paper, Heritage Landscapes principal Patricia O'Donnell, IFLA Cultural Landscapes Committee global chair, and ICOMOS expert, delivered a paper, co-authored with respected colleague Michael Turner, ICOMOS Israel, on HUL, to the morning general assembly of the IFLA 49th World Congress in Cape Town. The paper framed global urban trends, both growth and loss of populace, and highlighted the guidance toward integration of cultural, social, economic and environmental values embodied in the HUL approach. She offered an overview of the four groups of HUL tools - Community Engagement, Advisory, Legal and Financial - that can effectively work together to manage urban change, reatin heritage, provide for quality of life and foster econmic vitality.The illustrated text will be published in the congress proceedings.

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In 1992, UNESCO World Heritage adopted three definitions for cultural landscapes and provided for listing of these resources as World Heritage Sites. Twenty years under these constructs has yielded 66 inscriptions of cultural landscapes of varying scales and types, as places of outstanding, universal value that transcend national boundaries.  The study of these places sheds light on opportunities and challenges for all cultural landscapes.

Cultural landscapes are products of the interaction of people and nature, and vulnerable to the influence of both. The presenters researched and analyzed cultural landscapes listed as World Heritage today. There are ten inscription criteria, ranging from masterpiece of creative genius to direct association with living traditions. The listed sites were compared and contrasted by criterion, location, vulnerability, and management.  The definition for inscription was investigated:

  • Clearly Defined Landscape: created intentionally by a single person or group

  • Organically Evolved Landscape: resulting from cultural imperative and response to the natural environment; can either evolve as a living place (continuing landscape) or mark the end of an evolutionary process (relict landscape). 

  • Associative Cultural Landscape linked to artistic or cultural traditions or expressions as a physical place where intangible aspects of cultural heritage are embodied.

The distribution of listed landscapes by these types was categorized into a paper for presentation at the IFLA World Congress. Cultural landscapes listed as World Heritage at risk during the 20 years were researched to investigate the issue of vulnerability and exposure to pressures. Taking basic data further, management plans were scrutinized to discern strategies and tools being applied. The research process yielded a broad understanding of the landscapes listed, noting the prevalence of the evolved-continuing landscape type. Further, the places where people continue to live and thrive are the most subject to change. The poster focuses on the findings in terms of pressures and management strategies to highlight landscapes in transition.

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