The South Australian Government has recently changed the Department for Environment & Heritage into the Department for Natural Resources. For many, this is seen as an abandonment by Government (a body established to govern and represent the interests of the people who elected it) of a set of our core values as a society.
What do readers think?
If you have an opinion, Email the Minister concerned: Paul Caica MP, firstname.lastname@example.org
Heritage is not only old buildings and long deceased people. Here are some notes from a Masterclass organised by Horse SA in heritage values.
Recreational Trails in Natural Areas – Managing for All
Excerpt from the Summary of the Master Class conducted by Dr Simon Cubit
Friday July 29th, 2007 Adelaide Showground
(Held in conjunction with the “Horses: Our Living Heritage” Black Tie Dinner)
Notes prepared by J Fiedler. Aug 1st, 2007. Full version can be found here
Protected areas are a cultural response to perceived threats to nature. Because society is constantly changing, so too are social perspectives on protected areas and the values they are established to conserve. ’
Throughout time, land has been set aside for special purposes and the public good. Early parks were established for their scenery and recreational values, this changed in time to “representative ecosystems” followed by “wilderness” to the present day “biodiversity”
In the same way, the meaning and preservation mechanisms for cultural heritage have also been reflective of society’s values.
Originally cultural heritage had two meanings, being things such as buildings and monuments and ideals meaning customs and values.
Specifically to Australia, the 1940’s saw both of the above meanings as current, with a noted uncertainty about how to recognise customs and values. During the 1960’s, material aspects came to the forefront e.g. architecture of great homes. In the 1970’s the Australian Heritage Commission included within heritage definitions as the “things we want to keep”. This had the effect of democratisation of heritage to everyday things.
One way of charting the change in cultural heritage in Australia is by looking at different versions of a document called “The Burra Charter”
In 1979 Australian Council of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (AICOMOS) adopted a charter for the conservation of places of cultural significance at a meeting at Burra, SA. The resulting document became known as “The Burra Charter”
The Charter is based on the philosophy of the Venice Charter of 1964 which was treaty that provided an international framework for the preservation and restoration of ancient buildings.
The Burra Charter became the official guideline for heritage management in Australia.
In 1998 International Council for Monuments & Sites – Cultural Heritage Places Policy – was updated to include
‘..heritage is manifest as place, object, stories (written or oral), and in values, traditions and customs’
During 1998, The Burra Charter also was revised, which defined cultural heritage as:
Conservation is based on a respect for the existing fabric and should involve the least possible physical intervention
In 1992 the Australian Heritage Council further defined social value as an ‘attachment to place that acts as an essential reference point or symbol for a community’s identity’
In 1999, The Burra Charter was again updated with the following heritage definitions
Place means site, area, land, landscape, building or other work, group of buildings or other works and may include components, contents, spaces and views.
Cultural significance means aesthetic, historic, scientific or social value for past, present or future generations. Cultural significance is embodied in the place itself, its fabric, setting, use, associations, meanings, records, related places and related objects. Places may have a range of values for differentindividuals or groups.
Associations means the special connections that exist between people and a place.
Meanings denote what a place signifies, indicates, evokes or expresses significant associations between people and a place should be respected, retained and not obscured. Opportunities for the interpretation, commemoration and celebration of these associations should be investigated and implemented.
Significant meanings, including spiritual values of a place should be respected.
Opportunities for the continuation or revival of these meanings should be investigated and implemented.
Thus, by late 1990s meaning of cultural heritage had extended from a focus on “things” to include “associations, customs and values”
Critically, this new definition proposed that continued use and access to a place is important in the maintenance of cultural significance. No distinction was made between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
The concluding parts of the MasterClass provided two tool kits:
Toolkit for a Land Manager
Toolkit No. 2: An action list for those who consider they are unfairly excluded from parks, natural and protected areas