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Culturally Natural or Naturally Cultural?

‘Culturally Natural or Naturally Cultural? explores the relationship between nature and culture through numerous case studies of World Heritage Sites and some new research which reveals some perhaps surprising statistics.

The work forms the report of a workshop held at the Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Park UNESCO World Heritage Site and the publication is the result of a great partnership between Natural England, the National Trust, WWF-UK. the IUCN National Committee UK and World Heritage UK who launched the report at their annual conference last week. You can download a pdf of the 76-page ‘Culturally Natural’ report from the publications page of this website.

With forewords from Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme, Kerstin Manz, Programme Specialist at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and Mick Stanley, the former Mayor of Ripon, the document gets off to a credible start and is followed by an introduction explaining the background to the workshop by Jonathan Larwood, Geology and Palaeontology Specialist at Natural England, and Sarah France, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Coordinator at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Park.

We then receive an overview of the place of cultural and natural heritage within the World Heritage Convention, and journey to the Rice Terraces of the Phillipine Cordilleras, Thingvellir National Park in Iceland, The Orkhon Valley in Mongolia and the Blaenavon  Industrial Landscape to demonstrate this, courtesy of authors Adrian Phillips and Christopher Young.

Other contributors include David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation for the National Trust, Vince Holyoak from English Heritage and Jonathan Larwood from Natural England with many more giving local case studies, from the Jurassic Coast to Creswell Crags, the Giant’s Causeway to Hadrian’s Wall, and from Bath and Stonehenge to the English Lake District, the UK’s most recently inscribed World Heritage Site.

Research carried out by Chris Mahon with support from WWF-UK’s Alma Roberts, concluded that 56% of the UK’s World Heritage Sites have a Significant or High level of nature interest, including a real contribution to make to achieving nationally important habitats and species conservation targets. Many World Heritage Sites provide habitat for bats and even the most industrial of sites inscribed for their cultural heritage can contain places for biodiversity (photo: Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site).

Nicely illustrated throughout, this report is recommended for anyone with an interest in the UK’s cultural and natural environment, its UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the interfaces that can be found between the three.




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