No. 34




Proposals for management of cultural heritage and cultural landscapes

14 December 2016


RiTo No. 34, 2016

  • Priit-Kalev Parts

    Priit-Kalev Parts

    Associate Professor of Inherited Crafts, University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy

  • Kalev Sepp

    Kalev Sepp

    Professor, Head of Department of Landscape Management and Nature Conservation, Estonian University of Life Sciences

The paper entitled “Proposals for Management of Cultural Heritage and Cultural Landscapes” examines the problems related to the administration and protection of landscape, rural life and other traditional values in an era in which, even for rural populations, agriculture is being rapidly demoted to a subsidiary source of employment and income.

The authors analyse the conceptual underpinnings of the conservation of nature and heritage in Estonia and reveal implicit ideological currents in the regulatory practice of the field. The paper suggests a series of alternative concepts (living landscape, rural inhabitants as an endangered breed, heritage-based sustainable livelihoods, endangered settlements) as the basis for the assessment, monitoring and regulation of rural landscapes. The authors include examples of attempts to reconceptualise local nature and heritage protection as a complex set of actions seeking to develop sustainable livelihoods. The approach highlights the role of values in the making of relevant decisions and suggests various options for achieving economic and administrative savings in practical landscape planning. The thesis discusses how the approach may be implemented in the protected areas of Estonia and in other culturally sensitive areas. The approach is also shown to hold considerable potential for application in the administration and regional development of cultural landscapes located outside protected areas. The studies conducted as part of the thesis show that there is no agreement in Estonia concerning the values that underpin the assessment of cultural landscapes and cultural heritage. Although a certain body of accepted rhetorical formulations has developed over time, it is often used to justify widely different or even outright contradictory aims and visions, which often results in the euphemisation of problems and development priorities. The accepted rhetoric appears to favour the interests and perspectives of mobile groups (tourists, academic experts) over those of local residents, and is geared to generate opposition between economic activities and protective measures. The authors recommend a more dynamic and complex approach to rural values and suggests that protective measures should be integrated into the development of sustainable local livelihoods. This entails a series of challenges to official institutions in terms of rewriting the existing regulations and rethinking their practical work, so that the protection regimes of each protected area would be determined with regard to the specifics of the area. It also means that, where necessary, the institutions should be prepared to grant local communities priority rights to use natural resources, to relieve the restrictions on human activity in endangered settlements and to arrange for and recognise, in relation to certain trades, the individual learning of those in the immediate or approximate environment of skill bearers.