This year’s International Day for Monuments and Sites offers the opportunity for National and International Scientific Committees to raise awareness about the relevance of rural landscapes, the challenges that encompass their conservation, the benefits that these efforts provide, and how rural landscapes are intrinsically related with sustainable development. The Day represents an unparalleled opportunity to foster communication and build links with communities while acknowledging their involvement in the creation, existence, evolution and richness of these rural landscapes, and no doubt, in their conservation.
For centuries, even for millennia, rural landscapes have maintained a balance between human activity and their environment. A myriad of everyday actions have in some cases resulted in moderate evolution, and in other cases in dramatic transformations due to changes in production methods, technological advances or economic and political changes. The resulting heritage features evidence from different periods, constituting a rich and complex ensemble of tangible, intangible and living heritage, in which change, transformation and evolution remain ongoing, and continue as long as the rural landscape is alive.
Whilst the urban population rate is growing and has reached a global figure of 54.82% in 2017, the population of rural areas also continues to grow, despite its decline in terms of percentage share. This has a twofold effect in rural areas and, while some areas are being abandoned, others are suffering from human pressure. Furthermore, we cannot ignore the ecological footprint that urban areas have on rural zones, and the changes in the rural landscapes that this footprint induces, as well as the consequences for both the environment and communities.
Some of the main features that define rural landscapes are its fragility and use. While any changes in the conditions that sustain the living and evolving landscape might involve a dramatic transformation, or even a complete abandon or loss of a landscape, it is the conservation of its use which enables its tangible and intangible heritage to survive.
Rural landscapes may well be the principal domain in conservation practice in which communities and participation are the most relevant. The conservation of rural landscapes puts an emphasis on the relation between heritage and society, and on the obvious and direct benefits that heritage conservation has not only on the communities that have created, modified and actually bear those rural landscapes, but also on the society whose ecological footprint these landscapes sustain – that is to say the benefits for all of us. This is what makes the conservation of rural landscapes not only important, but fascinating.
18 April is one of the best channels for disseminating ideas for the protection of cultural heritage and communicating on the activities of the day. It allows all of our members and friends to participate in raising awareness and in sharing in the great enthusiasm the 18 April generates.
The International Day for Monuments and Sites also known as ”World Heritage Day” is an international observance held on 18 April each year around the world with different types of activities, including visits to monuments and heritage sites, conferences, round tables, and newspaper articles.
UNESCO established 18 April as the International Day for Monuments and Sites in 1983. It aims to raise public awareness about the diversity and vulnerability of the world’s built monuments and heritage sites and the efforts required to protect and conserve them.