Planning system reform and World Heritage – online discussion event proposed

Announcement, Events, News, Uncategorized

planning-for-the-future-960-x-640

You can read more about today’s Government announcement of its consultation on proposals for reform of the planning system in England at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/launch-of-planning-for-the-future-consultation-to-reform-the-planning-system

and

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future 

World Heritage UK will be hosting an online event before the consultation period ends on 29th October 2020, to discuss any implications for World Heritage Sites. Watch this space for further details including confirmed date and speakers.

House of Lords Asked to Recognise the Value of World Heritage for Post-Covid Recovery

Announcement, News
A selection of our exceptional World Heritage Sites

The UK’s 32 World Heritage Sites should not be viewed as a burden which the government are simply obliged to protect. They should be empowered to reach their full potential as generators of jobs, economic regeneration, and joy.  This would not only greatly assist these special places’ own post-Covid recovery but also support the wider heritage sector, the tourism industry and the UK’s local and national economy.

This is something the government must understand and provide support for but it is  thankfully becoming part of the conversation – a discussion on the UK’s World Heritage recently occurred in the House of Lords where Baroness Andrews asked “is the Minister aware that all our 32 world heritage sites need urgent help to recover from the impact of Covid-19? If our heritage assets are to help in the rebuilding of Britain, their custodians need sustainable funding to do so. When will they know what share of the DCMS cultural package they will get?”

Since the beginning of the 2020 pandemic, World Heritage UK has been supporting the UK’s World Heritage Sites by facilitating a monthly online Site Coordinators’ meeting. Much like our physical events (sadly not possible this year), this digital space has become a valued forum for sites to support one another and to share advice, expertise, and intelligence, both about the ongoing situation and wider World Heritage issues.

The discussions we have facilitated have also identified common themes and shared concerns, including how to adapt sites for social distancing, funding challenges, green recovery, and the decolonisation of heritage. The presence of DCMS and other heritage NDPBs at these meetings is a testament to the importance of these conversations.

Though many UK World Heritage sites were originally forced to close, as they have reopened, they are already proving their value as important places for pandemic recovery. Most sites, especially natural or mixed sites, are outdoors or have large spaces compatible with social distancing and have become vital assets for wellbeing. This can be seen in the changing audiences coming to UK World Heritage Sites over the past four months: The English Lake District, for example, is seeing a totally new demographic of visitors who have never been to the lakes (or indeed the countryside) before. However, other sites have struggled with access and social distancing requirements, making reopening more difficult – this has been the case for Orkney where ferries have been very limited and their normal tourism from cruises has bee wiped out this year.

The World Heritage UK report published last year

World Heritage UK wishes to ensure that our world-class sites – both cultural and natural – not only survive the pandemic and its associated economic downturn but also thrive and positively contribute to national recovery.  There are many lessons to be gleaned from two recent reports published on the subject: The 2019 World Heritage UK Review, published last year and the recently published UKNC National Value of UNESCO to the United Kingdom Report have both highlighted the enormous untapped potential of our World Heritage Sites, pointing out that with the right support, they can be strong drivers of economic regeneration.

In the short term, World Heritage Sites can contribute to economic recovery by driving inbound and domestic tourism. Longer term, they can support the creation of jobs and employment in tourism, traditional building skills and the construction industry, contributing to sustainable regeneration and place-making. Finding new uses for old buildings is also an inherently green approach to recovery which maximises the use of our existing assets.

Increasing capacity, diversification and upskilling in the management of World Heritage Sites is vital to enable sites to realise their potential benefits.  Furthermore, higher levels of awareness of World Heritage sites within the UK and internationally will have an enormous beneficial impact for Global Britain, its cultural diplomacy and soft power.

As the UK moves into recovery post-Covid, every industry has the chance to forge a new, more sustainable path. For the heritage sector in particular, the UK’s World Heritage Sites can lead the way in fostering sustainable development by supporting local, regional, and national communities and economies whilst promoting culture and tourism in our own back yard.

UNESCO sites lead the way on sustainable development and create value for communities across the UK

Announcement, News, Uncategorized

Dorset and East Devon Coast

Published today (25 June 2020) by the UK National Commission for UNESCO, new research shows UNESCO projects can help build a greener, more equal and more peaceful world, while also creating financial value.

UK Government Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston MP said: “From Stonehenge to Jodrell Bank, our UNESCO sites tell the story of our shared history and attract visitors from all over the world. This research is testament to the important role these sites play in their local communities and, once it is safe to do so, we will be encouraging people to visit.”

UNESCO projects in the UK generate an estimated £151 million of financial benefit to local communities each year and help bring them together to protect and conserve some of the most important places across the country.

Set up as a specialised agency of the United Nations in the wake of the Second World War, UNESCO harnesses the power of education, culture, science, communication and information to advance global peace building, sustainable development, intercultural dialogue and the eradication of poverty.

From expansive mountain ranges in the Highlands of Scotland to densely populated urban areas such as Belfast, Bradford and Manchester, UNESCO certified projects include Global Geoparks, World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves and Creative Cities. The projects span 12% of the UK’s land area and comprise of partnerships between 1,300 organisations, charities, and businesses.

These partnerships are made mainly on a local level, between hundreds of groups all working together to support efforts in conservation, research, education, capacity building and tourism. This new research shows that continued investment in UNESCO projects is critical in helping the UK and devolved governments meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report is the first to examine the cultural, environmental and financial benefits to UK life from these diverse UNESCO projects, and their active contribution to the SDGs. Along with preserving precious landscapes, buildings and archives, UNESCO projects are also leading research on vital issues such as water scarcity, refugee integration, climate change and child literacy.

“This research shows the unique value offered by UNESCO projects in the UK. They embody community and enable us to preserve and enjoy our most special places and culture. They also pioneer solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems and inspire hope in these unprecedented times. Within this report are a number of case studies that can help inform the UK’s path towards a green recovery from the coronavirus crisis.”

James Bridge, Secretary-General of the UK National Commission for UNESCO

Environment and Community

The research highlights the cultural, environmental and financial value of 76 UNESCO projects in the UK. It reveals a creative network rooted in community, rich in potential, and impacting lives here and around the world.

Examples of UNESCO projects with a positive impact on the environment and communities:

  • The Jurassic Coast Trust in Dorset is an umbrella organisation responsible for a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering 95 miles of beautiful coastline. The Trust believes the Jurassic Coast is best looked after by the people who visit it, use it and love it, and are focused as much on the people and communities as upon the rocks, landscape and fossils. They are working to ensure a financially sustainable coastline that is supported by a network of dedicated schools, community groups, volunteers and businesses.

“We are part of this huge global family of World Heritage Sites that celebrate these outstanding features, natural or cultural; it is a very powerful concept that these values transcend national and political boundaries.”

Anjana Khatwa, Programme Manager, Learning at the Jurassic Coast Trust.

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  • Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark is the first cross-border Geopark in the world, and crosses the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The geopark is dedicated to telling the story of our planet through its unique natural, cultural and geological heritage, and its cross-border nature forms a crucial part of the Geopark’s outreach and engagement programme. The Geopark Science Week brings 500 schoolchildren from both sides of the border together to study their shared geological heritage. Demand for the Science Week is high, but a lack of resources restricts the Geopark from hosting it more often.

“The job and excitement and delight when we present material to young people in a fashion that engages them – you can see that you are igniting that enthusiasm in them for our geological heritage and they want to find out more.”

Martina O’Neil, Marble Arch Caves Geopark Development Officer.  

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  • The Isle of Man UNESCO Biosphere Reserve has launched a badge with the UK’s Girlguiding charity. The initiative seeks to support girls and young women to get closer to nature, learn more about sustainability and tackle issues such as hunger, poverty, gender inequality and climate change.

“The badge encourages young members and leaders in our organisation to think about the world around them – to understand the meaning of ‘community’, get involved and make things better. If we can instil these thoughts and actions in our young people, it will make our Island and beyond a better place.”

Karen Walker, Commissioner of Girlguiding Isle of Man.

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  • The UNESCO trail in Scotland is a digital asset to be launched in partnership with VisitScotland, the UK National Commission for UNESCO and Scotland’s UNESCO designations. The trail connects 13 UNESCO designations and aims to increase the value of tourism to these sites by encouraging visitors to stay longer and spend more locally, improving, in turn, the quality of life of the local communities. The trail was due to be launched in early 2020 but has been delayed until after the coronavirus crisis.

“If we lost UNESCO status, what would make us different from any other community organisation? I feel that it gives me more confidence both to be entrepreneurial and to write a funding application. It’s not just us that thinks we’re special, the UN thinks that it’s special. It shows you that you’ve got the outside support – that something beyond the UK, Europe, globally, has said that “We believe that this organisation has the ability to manage this heritage and we believe that it’s special.”

Dr Laura Hamlet, Geopark Coordinator at the North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark

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  • The Dyfi UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Wales has been struggling to make the desired impact on the region and local communities. There is a commitment to celebrate and support the Welsh language and culture, but a lack of resources limits the necessary collaboration needed. Vital funding is essential to strengthen the network and support sustainable development, in line with Wales’ Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015.

“The visitors and potential visitors are an important audience but actually not really as important as the local community, including business. So, it’s critical for us that we have that sort of groundswell of support.”

Andy Rowland, Coordinator, Dyfi Biopshere Reserve

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“Particularly striking is how all designations place the community at the core of their work. Their commitment to UNESCO’s values and objectives means they share a strong interest in bringing people together to build and nurture meaningful relationships with nature, heritage and each other.”

2020 UNESCO National Value Report

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Economy

UNESCO World Heritage Sites rank among the most visited attractions in 2018 and are significant contributors to the UK economy. The research analysed the impact of being granted official UNESCO status, which has helped the 76 sites and projects surveyed generate an estimated £151 million to the UK economy in just one year.

However, the total figure disguises significant variations, even before the challenges brought by Covid-19. Some sites struggle to secure sufficient funding whether through tourism or other means, due to a low profile and lack of resources, and these problems will have been exacerbated during the lockdown. Investment in these sites is critical to increase cross-disciplinary work and enhance their contribution to the UK economy.

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General, said: “At a time when we all look for solutions to build more resilient societies after Covid-19, UNESCO sites offer a wealth of concrete actions to reinvent our relationship with nature, to develop decent jobs and foster social cohesion. This report by the UK National Commission to UNESCO is a blueprint for sustainability, and I believe all Countries can take inspiration from this research.”

World Heritage UK Chair’s Christmas message

Announcement, News, Uncategorized, World Heritage UK

Bath Abbey 006 (1)

On behalf of all the Board of Trustees at World Heritage UK,  I wish all our members, supporters and your families a very happy and restful Christmas.

2019 has been a busy year, set against a turbulent political back-drop and with the need to urgently address global environmental challenges which are undoubtedly becoming the defining issue of our age. We know through our networks the hard work that goes on every day at all of our 32 UK World Heritage Sites, often undertaken by just a few dedicated people and a pocketful of change. Hard work, creative minds and professional expertise then turn these ingredients into heritage protection and interpretation which is the envy of the world.

Christmas is a time for thankfulness and optimism. Perhaps we can look forward to a little more political stability in 2020?  …and maybe even the prospect of more funding?!  Whatever the New Year will bring, we will face it collectively with enthusiasm, mutual support and the knowledge that what we deliver, in conserving our irreplaceable cultural and natural heritage, is cherished by so many in this generation and those who will succeed us.  They can’t always say thank you for all that you do, but I can.

Happy Christmas!

Tony

Tony Crouch
Chair of Trustees
World Heritage UK

‘Making the Most of World Heritage’ – 2019 conference announcement

Conference, Events, Llangollen 2019, News, UNESCO, Wales, WHS Review, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK

pontaquamain_2

The Board of Trustees of World Heritage UK is pleased to announce the details of its 5th Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting, this year to be hosted by the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal UNESCO World Heritage Site at the Llangollen Pavilion near Wrexham in North Wales on the 7th and 8th October 2019.

Following the imminent publication of the State of UK World Heritage Sites Review, this conference will adopt some of the report’s main themes and explore the issues and prospective outcomes that it highlights with a range of speakers from home and overseas.

Along with exciting site visit experiences and your chance to ask questions of a panel of experts, do join: Deputy Minister for Culture Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas; from the USA, Global Philadelphia Association Executive Director Zabeth Teelucksingh; from the World Cultural Heritage Centre of China, Yan Haiming; Author and researcher Bailey Ashton Adie and Head of Tourism and Heritage at DCMS, Giles Smith (all pictured above) along with Michael Macdonough, Chief Archaeologist at the Irish Government and many more. Themes of ‘Financing sites and governance models’, ‘Heritage, soft power and diplomacy’ and the ‘Impacts and Benefits of Tourism’, in particular will be under the spotlight.

You can find the latest draft v8 programme Pontcysyllte  and you can book your place on the conference registration site HERE (early booking recommended to avoid disappointment and to secure accommodation in advance).

World Heritage UK is grateful to the following sponsors and supporters who have helped make this event possible:

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Durham Cathedral to host World Heritage UK Summer Meeting – book now to avoid disappointment – tickets selling fast!

Durham Cathedral, Events, Heritage, Network meetings, News, UNESCO, World Heritage UK

durham-castle-credit-adteasdale

photo credit: adteasdale

World Heritage UK is pleased to announce its next two-day summer workshop and networking event, exploring the social and economic opportunities and challenges of working with people in and around World Heritage Sites. A rare treat, the meeting will take place in the historic Priors Hall of Durham Cathedral (not generally open to the public), at the heart of the Durham Castle and Cathedral UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to the support of Historic England and heritage consultancy, Purcell, we are able to bring you this opportunity for just £90 (plus booking fee). Register HERE as soon as possible to avoid disappointment, as tickets are selling fast!

An optional third day (Thursday 8th August) is also offered, at a small additional cost of just £30 (plus booking fee), with a chance to visit some of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site, at Hadrian’s Wall. Leaving Durham by coach in the morning, visiting Heddon on the Wall, the Sill Landscape Discovery Centre and on to Housesteads Roman Fort before returning late afternoon to Durham.

The draft programme for the 6th, 7th and 8th August is listed below and considers a range of subjects including: the socio-economic effects of world heritage status, heritage tourism, community archaeology, young people as heritage champions, along with some interesting international perspectives. Further information and confirmed speakers will be available shortly.

Delegates should come prepared to enjoy the presentations and contribute to developing these themes in panel sessions but it won’t be all work, with many opportunities to visit some highlights of this fascinating World Heritage Site including the Cathedral, Castle and Open Treasure exhibition, networking with world heritage colleagues and heritage service providers and a dinner in the Cathedral’s Medieval Undercroft restaurant included.

Perhaps a good opportunity to make it part of your summer holiday this year!

Day one: Tuesday 6th August
Pre-registration: Self-guided tour of Durham Castle
12.30-13.00 Registration and welcome refreshments (tea/coffee)

13.00-13.30 Session 1 Welcomes
Session Chair: tbc
13.00-13.10 World Heritage UK welcome
13.10-13.20 Sponsors’ welcome
13.20-13.30 Durham Cathedral World Heritage Site welcome

13.30-15.30 Session 2 Working with local people
Session Chair: tbc
13.30-14.00 Hadrian’s Wall Community Archaeology Project (Wall CAP)
14.00-14.30 Volunteering as a tool for community engagement Durham Cathedral
14.30-15.00 Lumbini, Nepal, Birthplace of the Buddha
15.00 – 15.30 Panel discussion and questions

15.30-16:00 Refreshments and networking (tea/coffee)
Event group photograph

16.00 – 17.00 Visit to Open Treasure Exhibition

17.30-18.30 Early evening supper – Cathedral Undercroft Restaurant and networking drinks reception in World Heritage Site Visitor Centre

Day two: Wednesday 7th August
09:00-10.00 Guided tour of Durham WHS 3 groups of 20

10.30-12.30 Session 2 Economic opportunities and challenges
Session Chair:tbc
10.30 – 11.00 England’s Northern World Heritage Collection
11.00 – 11.30 Tourist Tax
11.30 – 12.00 Analysing the socio-economic benefits of WHS status in Durham – a methodology
12.00 – 12.30 Panel discussion and questions

12.30-13.30 Lunch and networking/visit the Cathedral

13.30-15.30 Session 3 Working with young people
Session Chair: tbc
13.30-14.00 Young Heritage Ambassadors/Young Curators
14.00-14.30 North Wales Young Custodians Scheme
14.30-15.00 Rediscovering the Antonine Wall
15.00 – 15.30 Panel discussion and questions

15:30-16.00 Refreshments and networking (tea/coffee)

16.00 – 16.30 Elevator pitches from World Heritage Sites x 5 x 5 minutes
16:30-17:00 Summary and concluding remarks
16.30 – 16.40 Preparing for the World Heritage UK Conference 2019 at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site
16.40 – 17.00 Concluding remarks

18.00-19.00 Public Lecture – Chris Blandford will speak about the World Heritage Site Review.

Day three: Thursday 8th August (optional) Frontiers of the Roman Empire – site visit to Hadrian’s Wall
9.30 Leave Durham by coach
10.30 Arrive at Heddon on the Wall to meet John Scott and Kerry Shaw
10.30-11.15 Site visit at Heddon on the Wall to share visitor experience and community engagement
11.15-11.45 Travel to The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre
11.45-12.30 Presentation by John Scott on Hadrian’s Wall management
12.30-1.30 Lunch (designated café area for delegates to buy own lunch)
1.30-1.45 Travel to Housesteads Roman Fort
1.45-3.30 Site visit at Housesteads Roman Fort
3.30-4.30 Travel back to Durham

Register HERE to take part in this fantastic opportunity!

Supported by:

Cornish Mining World Heritage Site gets £1m for Wheal Busy conservation

Cornish Mining Landscape, News, Uncategorized

Wheal Busy Smithy Funding 1

One of the two impressive cast iron lintels of the Smithy, which give an indication of the proud 
spirit the mine company wished to convey through its reworking of Wheal Busy in the 1870s.
(Image: Ainsley Cocks)

Since 2014 the World Heritage site has prioritised Wheal Busy Smithy as a conservation project and for many years before this members of the team, the local community and Cornwall Council have searched for a solution to preserve this fantastic piece of history, which is a noted feature of ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ within the World Heritage Site.

Whilst being a well-known feature in the Chacewater area, the building has unfortunately been underutilised for some time which has led to deterioration of the scantle-slate roofing. The winter storms of 2014 also caused the partial collapse of the building’s south eastern corner, increasing concerns about its continued stability.

In 2018 the World Heritage Office approached Highways England with the aim of getting the Smithy included as one of the projects to be funded by the Highways England A30 Environmental Designated Funds. Since then the World Heritage Team has worked with Highways England, Arup contractors, Members of the Chasewater Parish Council and Tregothnan Estate to get the project approved for funding. We are delighted to announce that this project has now been approved for £1 million in funding. The Smithy is likely to be developed for community usage.

The Smithy workshop at Wheal Busy near the former mining village of Chacewater is unique within the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site and is thought to be the largest historic blacksmiths on a metalliferous mine in Britain.

Wheal Busy is a very important name in the annals of Cornish mining. The production of copper and tin in the area around Chacewater dates from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries, with the mine first being mentioned in 1666. Wheal Busy also saw the successive installation of early innovations in steam technology; a Newcomen atmospheric engine was at work dewatering the mine by around 1726, with this role assumed by a Smeaton improved atmospheric engine by 1775-1776. Eventually a Boulton & Watt separate condenser engine was installed, this being the first of its type to operate in Cornwall when it was put to work by its designer James Watt in 1777.

As an acknowledged feature of ‘Outstanding Universal Value’, or international significance, within the World Heritage Site, the preservation of the Smithy is of the highest priority to the World Heritage Site team. Designated a Grade II Listed building, the Smithy has an extensive scantle-slate roof and impressive cast iron lintels over its two main entrances. The building owes much of its grand form to a major reworking of the mine in the 1870s and the lintels boldly proclaim the title: ‘Great Wheal Busy Mines 1872’.

Julian German, Chair of the World Heritage Site Partnership, commented that “the Partnership very much welcome the support that Highways England have pledged through the A30 Environmental Designated Funds scheme. The Wheal Busy Smithy poses a significant conservation challenge but this announcement will enable the emergency stabilisation of the building, which is a well-known and highly regarded feature of international importance within the World Heritage Site.”

The World Heritage Site team are delighted that funding has been approved for the Smithy and look forward to working closely with Highways England, the Tregothnan Estate and the community of Chacewater to deliver the much-needed conservation of this unique aspect of Cornwall’s mining heritage.

New look for English Lake District supports local business and sustainability

Business, Commercial, communications, Culture, Lake District, Uncategorized, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK

Local businesses in the English Lake District UNESCO World Heritage Site are showing their support for its new global recognition with huge enthusiasm. Today, at the Westmorland County Show, the partners that developed the successful bid for inscription launched their branding for the UK’s most recent World Heritage Site – with great popular appeal. Taking a simple but welcoming approach the brand clearly identifies the place but cleverly encourages its adoption by local people for use in promoting activities, destinations, services and products using the specific font style.

On display at the showground today, ably hosted by team members from the Lake District National Park Authority and the National Trust, were some great examples of how locally produced goods are promoting themselves and the World Heritage Site as a result of this partnership. From local ‘Lovingly made in….’ cosmetics, to Cumbrian beer and coasters, even  a ‘World Heritage relish’ and the Herdwick wool handbags made famous on Kate Humble’s recent BBC programme, ‘Back to the Land’. These will all benefit from their association with the World Heritage Site and vice versa as the site is promoted through these local products.

It’s a win-win plus as sustainability is at the heart of this initiative. Sustainability of the land and its heritage conservation, sustainability of the local economy required to underpin it, and sustainability of the local communities that live and work here. And what a great showcase this will be for the visitors who will come here from across the world as a consequence of the UNESCO network of World Heritage Sites. There was a great sense of pride around this event today, and with good reason. The English Lake District is really making the most of its hard-won world heritage status.

You can meet Alex and Mairi (above) at the World Heritage UK conference at the Tower of London on 15th and 16th October where they will be with other UK World Heritage Site Coordinators. There are still some tickets left and you can register at:   www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/setting-the-scene-for-world-heritage-tickets-46877370477

World Heritage UK conference sponsors support Tower of London event

Conference, Conference Tower of London, Conservation, Culture, Events, London, News, Planning, Uncategorized, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK

Thanks to the generous support of these sponsors, World Heritage UK is able to keep the costs of delegate’s attendance affordable at its latest conference ‘Setting the Scene for World Heritage’, at the Tower of London, 15th and 16th October 2018. This is the 4th annual conference of the charity organisation and it promises to be the most compelling yet, not just for the prestigious venue in the city of London but also for the controversial nature of its subject matter. Development in and around World Heritage Sites is often in the news and here will be discussed such topical places as Stonehenge and its road issues, plans affecting the sites in Liverpool and London with tall buildings and other factors, plus many more examples from around the UK and its Overseas Territories.  The event is already attracting international interest so best secure your tickets soon to avoid disappointment. You can register for the conference here

New Coordinator at the Flow Country Tentative List World Heritage Site

Announcement, Flow Country, Jobs, Nature, News, scotland, Uncategorized, UNESCO, World Heritage Sites, World Heritage UK

Welcome to World Heritage, Joe Perry! The Peatlands Partnership has just appointed Joe as their World Heritage Site Officer to take forward the idea of The Flow Country in Sutherland and Caithness becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS).

Joe is moving to the Highlands from Glasgow where he been working as a Project Manager for an environmental tour and experiences company that aims to connect young people in Scotland with our natural and cultural heritage.  In addition to an honours degree in history, he has an MSc in Environment, Heritage and Policy.

Joe Perry

New Coordinator Joe Perry 

The Flow Country is an area of deep peat, dotted with bog pools, that blankets much of Caithness and Sutherland. The Flow Country is the largest expanse of blanket bog in Europe and covers about 200,000 hectares. A recent academic study has described The Flow Country as being “the best peatland of its type in the world”. The idea that the Flow Country could be inscribed as a World Heritage Site has been investigated by The Peatlands Partnership for some time and the area has been on the UK’s Tentative List of WHS since 1999. A World Heritage Site Working Group was set up by the Partnership in 2017 this short-life working group is independently chaired by Mrs Frances Gunn of The Highland 3rd Sector Alliance and will have a fixed purpose to develop and submit a Technical Evaluation to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by the summer of 2019.

A Technical Evaluation is essentially a scaled-down version of a ‘nomination’ (application) to UNESCO and is assessed by an independent panel. Whilst it is the Peatlands Partnership’s aspiration that The Flow Country becomes inscribed as a World Heritage Site, it is DCMS which will decide whether the case is sufficiently robust to nominate the site to UNESCO.

theflowcountry.org.uk

“the best peatland of its type in the world”?

A considerable amount of work is required to complete the process and Joe Perry has been appointed to assist the Working Group in delivering this.

The Working Group has to carry out three main tasks which will take up to 18 months to complete:

  • Develop a boundary for the proposed WHS in consultation with a wide range of community and other interests.
  • Carry out an extensive community consultation covering all aspects of what a WHS could mean to local communities.
  • Complete all the reports and information required to support the Technical Evaluation and submit this to DCMS in the summer of 2019.

Chair of the Working Group, Frances Gunn, said “In the past we have relied solely on a number of partners fitting this work in alongside all their other duties and so it’s a great step forward to have a Project Officer in post who can dedicate all their time to taking the World Heritage Site proposals forward, especially an all-important community consultation across Sutherland and Caithness.”

Frances added “I am particularly grateful to Highland Council who will act as host employer for Joe and I’m also delighted that we have funded this post from both the public and private sectors. The post is generously supported by Wildland Limited, RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and The Highland Council.”

Nicole Wallace, Highland Council’s Environment Manager pointed out “Highland Council is happy to help the Peatlands Partnership take the proposals for UNESCO World Heritage Site status forward and I look forward to Joe starting work on this exciting project next month.”

“We shouldn’t let the fact that the Flow Country has been identified as the best peatland of its type in the world pass us by.  A Flow Country World Heritage Site would not only be an enormous accolade for the area and the many organisations, land managers, crofters and farmers who have maintained this area for generations but it would also bring many positive development opportunities and undoubtedly some challenges too.”  

The Peatlands Partnership

The Peatlands Partnership includes:  Scottish Natural Heritage, Highland Council, Forestry Commission (Scotland), RSPB Scotland, Plantlife Scotland, The Environmental Research Institute, Northern Deer Management Group, Flow Country Rivers Trust, The Highland Third Sector Interface and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. It also liaises with local community groups, the Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate and the North Sutherland Community Forest Trust.

The Partnerships is chaired by Professor Stuart Gibb of the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso and Highland Council’s representative on the Partnership is Nicole Wallace, Head of Environment.

CONTACT DETAILS:

Joe Perry  Project Coordinator, Flow Country World Heritage Site Working Group

Joe.Perry@highland.gov.uk

07775 411270

Brigid Primrose Secretary: The Flow Country World Heritage Site Working Group,

c/o Scottish Natural Heritage, Great Glen House, Inverness.

Brigid.Primrose@snh.gov.uk

01463 725251 

Ian Mitchell  Secretary: The Peatlands Partnership,

c/o Scottish Natural Heritage, The Links, Golspie.

peatlands_partnership@snh.gov.uk 

0300 067 3110  

WWW.THEFLOWCOUNTRY.ORG.UK