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Discussing natural resource extraction in cultural landscapes as a cultural value

Patricia O'Donnell (Heritage Landscapes LLC, Charlotte, Vermont, USA)
Christophe Rivet (Cultural Spaces Consulting, Ottawa, Canada)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 14 July 2020

Issue publication date: 14 May 2021




Natural resource extraction is perceived as a destructive aspect of human culture. This characterization is widespread, despite the activity having shaped relationships between communities and their environment to create entire sets of cultural values and expressions through settlement patterns, traditional skills and practices, innovation and technology, intangible cultural expressions, local economies and more. The cultural dimensions of natural resource extraction landscapes were discussed at the ICOMOS ADCOM Annual Symposium in La Plata, Argentina, in December 2018. The workshop included experts in cultural landscapes, sustainability, industrial archaeology and industrial heritage. This paper reports on these issues and deliberations focusing on World Heritage cultural landscapes of extraction.


The report considers a broad survey of the World Heritage List and sites on national Tentative Lists to identify those related to natural extraction sites and distinguishing between categories of relict vs. living, and between the types of natural resources being extracted.


The conclusion is that the World Heritage Committee has yet to address the living value of natural resource extraction. Furthermore, the workshop attendants concluded that there is a pressing need to do so in light of the type, nature and sustainability of these sites. As the source of materials for many outstanding sites on the World Heritage List and the decreasing availability of some resources, the question requires consideration to ensure the sustainable use and livelihood of communities.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations are set by the general terms of the survey and the limited engagement of knowledgeable individuals.

Practical implications

The practical implications are related to guidance to review and analyse potential living cultural landscapes related to natural resource extraction.


There is no general discussion on this topic yet amongst professionals. The initiative of the workshop identified that gap and its related necessity to provide guidance.



O'Donnell, P. and Rivet, C. (2021), "Discussing natural resource extraction in cultural landscapes as a cultural value", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 140-145.



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