Nature and Culture in Dialogue – The outcomes of the Seminar

Photo: German-Dutch Nature Park Maas-Schwalm-Nette

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As a celebration of the European Year for Cultural Heritage, at the beginning of the year, the EUROPARC Federation and the Interpret Europe announced a partnership focused on the role of natural heritage to explore cultural identity. 

Throughout 2018, we brought our members together to look at how interpretation can influence connection to Europe’s natural and cultural heritage. The joint work kick-started in the Siggen Seminar, where a group of EUROPARC members analyzed how to frame cultural identity within Protected Areas, and shared examples on how to approach sensitive topics that are embedded in the history of the territory. Later, during a workshop at Interpret Europe Annual Conference, their members built on the results of the Siggen Seminar.

Nature and Culture in Dialogue – The outcomes of the Seminar

To present the results of the cooperation, EUROPARC and Interpret Europe organised on the 28th November 2018 the “Nature and Culture in Dialogue”, an event kindly hosted by DG Education and Culture in the European Commission. 25 participants representing 10 nationalities, looked at different experiences and opportunities to link nature and culture against the heritage background and how to follow up after the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.

EUROPARC and Interpret Europe were delighted to welcome a range of high-level speakers: Anne Grady, DG Education and Culture, Fotios Papoulias, European Commission Unit D.3 “Nature protection”, DG ENVI, Paolo Fontani, Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office in Brussels, Markus J. Prutsch, Senior researcher and administrator at the European Parliament, responsible for culture and education policies.

The representatives from both DGs, underlined that in total, almost half (ca 170 sites) of all World Heritage Sites in the EU are in, or within 2 km of, a Natura 2000 and 27 of the 29 natural and mixed World Heritage Sites in the EU overlap with Natura 2000 sites. In fact, the event was a first occasion to understand the importance of connecting the two DGs and how to create a new project together in the future.

Nature and Culture in Dialogue, 28th November 2018. European Commission, Brussels

Working together, for Natural and Cultural Heritage

Cultural Identity is rooted in the connection to the land. It is reflected in architecture, crafts, literature, and art and of course the food we eat. Cultural identity, however, is not always as fixed as it may seem. Interpretation can be a powerful tool to help communities appreciate their history, even if fractured by major forces such as war, translocation, politics, modern travel and connectivity.  

When we think about a Protected Area there is no better word to describe it as Synergies. The aim of the workshop was exactly to develop and stimulate this thinking that Nature and Culture are strongly related to each other. So is fundamental to see the big picture of the areas: understanding that the territory is a synthesis of many factors as natural, cultural, economic, development, integration, young generation and the old one.

Parks and Protected areas form the bedrock of much of Europe’s Cultural heritage; all are connected to the landscape and through reconnecting to nature people can understand their culture once more.

The key point was shared from all the speakers: Natural and Cultural Heritage are alive, a key driver of multiple social-economic benefits to communities, not only helping to promote rural regeneration and identity, through tourism development, product diversification, and attraction of new financial investments.

We are sure the event provoked a new mindset, where landscape and biodiversity are seen as an integrant part of our cultural identity. EUROPARC and Interpret Europe will seek to further explore this connection, and provide members of both organisations training and tools to improve interpretation in Europe’s natural and cultural sites.

Nature and Culture in Dialogue, 28th November 2018. European Commission, Brussels

A celebration of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage

Our Heritage: where the
past meets the future
is the key message of the 2018
European Year of Cultural Heritage
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