Including the intangible cultural heritage in the First Conference of Carpathian Network of Protected Areas

Including the intangible cultural heritage in the First Conference of Carpathian Network of Protected Areas

Following our colleague Sebastian Catanoiu’s suggestion, the organisation of the First Conference of Carpathian Network of Protected Areas, held in Poiana Brasov, Transylvania, Romania, 23-24 October, invited the co-ordinators of the Delos Initiative to lead a workshop on cultural heritage. The Carpathian Framework Convention was ratified by seven parties: Check Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine (

Two workshops devoted to cultural heritage and local communities of protected areas were led by Josep-Maria Mallarach, assisted by Sebastian Catanoiu (Romania), and Martin Pavlik (Check Republic), member of Alpark, who acted as a rapporteur. During the first workshop, the Delos Initiative was presented as a framework for discussion. The conclusions of both workshops included a synthetic diagnose and a number of proposals to be included in the Draft Work Programme of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas that was discussed by the 90 participants during the Conference.

The participants concluded that the Carpathian Mountains represent not only the last large biodiversity reservoir of Europe, but also one of the major depositories of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, where religion, faith, legends, myths, traditional governance systems etc are still present and alive. The landscape inherited in the Carpathian region is the result of long term interaction with local communities. Their worldview has -or has had until very recently- a strong spiritual component, which gives intrinsic values to nature and a respectful attitude towards natural resources. Loss of traditional culture and penetration of the materialistic outlook consist some of the main threats for nature, culture and landscape conservation of the Carpathians.

In order to promote the inclusion of tangible and intangible cultural heritage in protected areas planning, management and evaluation of the Carpathians, a new strategic action was suggested by the participants of those workshops. It includes the identification and characterisation of the Carpathian cultural identity, the identification of protected areas including significant spiritual, cultural and natural values, the organisation of a specific workshop for the Carpathian region and the establishment of a working group for tangible and intangible cultural heritage of protected areas.

A holistic approach of nature conservation can effectively demonstrate to local communities that the institution of protected areas can assist them conserve and evaluate their identity and traditions, prevailing over the feeling that they only impose restrictions. These recommendations, presented in the plenary session of the Conference, will allow during the coming years the development of the article 11 of the Carpathian Convention, which deals with cultural heritage and traditional knowledge, taking into consideration the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.