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This paper sets out to analyse what IUCN sees as the natural values of World Heritage Cultural Landscapes, in a theoretical way, by reference to all 36 inscribed sites and with the help of four case studies.
The first section describes the emergence of a new paradigm in protected areas. This attaches far greater importance than hitherto to the links between cultural and natural values. IUCN, as the Advisory Body to the World Heritage Committee on the natural side of the Convention, is therefore becoming increasingly interested in the interface with cultural issues. One such example is the involvement that IUCN has had in World Heritage Cultural Landscapes: IUCN has played an important part in the conceptual development and practical application of this type of World Heritage site until its adoption by the World Heritage Committee in 1992. Since then it has worked closely with colleagues in ICOMOS in developing and applying this concept.
IUCN’s interest in Cultural Landscapes arises because of the important natural values which many of them contain. As a result, many World Heritage Cultural Landscapes coincide with protected areas recognised IUCN. The second section of the paper analyses that relationship, site by site. It concludes by suggesting a typology of relationships between the protected areas and World Heritage Cultural Landscapes
The third section of the paper looks at four existing or proposed World Heritage Cultural Landscapes which are known to the author, from Hungary, Iceland, the Philippines and Portugal (the Azores). This shows - by reference to IUCN guidance on the identification of natural values in cultural landscapes - how important natural values occur in sites that are treated formally as on the cultural side of the Convention.
Protected areas are essential for biodiversity conservation, landscape protection and for many other aspects of conservation and sustainable development. IUCN has defined protected areas as “ areas of land and/or
sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed through legal or other effective means.” (IUCN, 1994).
Within this broad definition, protected areas are managed for many different purposes. To help improve understanding in this area, and to promote awareness of the range of protected area purposes, IUCN has developed a system of categorising protected areas by their primary management objective. It identifies six distinct categories (IUCN, 1994), which are set out in Annex 1. This system is being increasingly accepted by national governments as a framework to guide the establishment and management of protected areas. A growing number of countries have integrated it within their domestic legislation or policy relating to conservation and protected areas. Only a few weeks ago, at the Seventh Conference of the Parties to the CBD (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 2004) this IUCN system was given intergovernmental support3.
Every few years, the United Nations Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP/WCMC) in Cambridge, UK and the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) of IUCN produce the so- called ‘UN List of Protected Areas’. This is a global assessment, first called for by the United Nations, of the extent and distribution of protected areas as defined above. The most recent published version of the UN list (Chape et al, 2003) was presented to the World Parks Congress held in Durban, South Africa in September 2003. This version of the UN list records no less than 102,102 individual protected areas, totalling 18.8 million km2, the equivalent of 11.5% of the world’s total land area but less than 1% of the marine environment. This is an impressive achievement and represents a major commitment by countries to protect their natural heritage. It is also a great gift to the new century, giving peoples and governments development and conservation options which would otherwise have been lost.
But there are many shortcomings with protected areas coverage. In many countries the coverage is far below the global average. Also a far higher proportion of some biomes (such as tropical savannah) are protected than are others (such as lake ecosystems and temperate forests). An even greater problem is the many threats to protected areas around the world. The crude total number and extent of protected areas tells us nothing about how well they are managed. Thus, even when these areas exist in law, they often suffer from encroachment, poaching, unregulated tourism, deforestation, desertification, pollution and so forth. Most protected areas lack management plans, yet such plans are essential if a national park or a nature reserve is to achieve its stated aims. Many protected area managers lack the necessary sills - business skills for example. Often these places are ignored in national and regional development planning, and in sectoral planning. Most important, everywhere local communities tend to be alienated from protected areas nearby or in which they
Moreover, threats will increase in future: rising numbers of people, increased demands for resources of all kinds, pollution of many sorts (often novel and insidious), accelerating climate change, the effects of globalisation - all these represent a new order of challenge to protected areas around the world.
Protected areas face ever-greater threats to their continued existence just when their values are growing in importance to humankind. If protected areas indeed have a growing value to society, and yet they are increasingly at risk, it would appear that there is something badly wrong in the way in which we plan and manage them. Only some of the answers, of course, are available to protected area managers themselves. Issues like the global patterns of trade, war and conflict, and climate change are matters for national governments, often working together, to address. But it is also widely recognised among the planners and managers of the protected areas themselves that a new approach is needed. The main elements of this have been captured in a “new paradigm” – see Table 1.
Established mainly for
spectacular wildlife and scenic
Valued for the cultural
importance of so-called
Planned as part of national,
regional and international
Developed as ‘networks’
(strictly protected areas,
buffered and linked by green
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