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English Lake District's first international presentation as a World Heritage Site

30 November 2018

Jamie Lund, deputy chair of the WHS’ Technical Advisor Group and the National Trust’s Archaeologist & Cultural Heritage Advisor, recently represented the English Lake District World Heritage Site and the Lake District National Park Partnership at two conferences in San Francisco.  The invitation came from Brenda Barratt, one of the two assessors appointed to scrutinise the Lake District’s nomination for World Heritage status in 2016. Brenda returned to the Lake District this summer to see how we were getting along and invited us to San Francisco to share our experiences of being a recently inscribed site.

The first event Jamie attended was the US ICOMOS Symposium which took place under the banner of ‘Forward Together: A Culture-Nature Journey Towards a More Effective Conservation in a Changing World’.  The second event was the conference of the US National Trust for Historic Preservation (was has a model quite unlike that of the UK National Trust) entitled ‘PastForward’.  This event had a wide compass of themes which included further discussion on the ‘Culture-Nature Journey’, featuring a session presenting reports from the field, at which Jamie had been asked to speak.

The four days proved to be a truly paradigm shifting experience, with representatives from ICUN, ICOMOS and a host of other international and national conservation bodies working together, using a common language and defining a twenty-first century model of conservation.  It is clear that we in the Lake District, and indeed across the UK, urgently need to assess if our traditionally separate approach to cultural landscape and natural and environmental conservation is succeeding in protecting our stock of cultural and natural assets and delivering the benefits for society that it should.

Jamie (below, cycling at the Golden Gate Bridge, complete with mask to combat smoke from wildfires) left the event delighted to have introduced the international audience to the English Lake District and the work of the Partnership, but also aware of the challenge that lies ahead in working towards a more integrated and convivial approach to conservation that benefits culture and nature as two sides of the same coin.

Tim Badman, Director of the ICUN World Heritage Programme, captured the challenge we face, and highlighted the direction of travel for the global conservation movement and the urgent need for a change of approach:

We currently lack the language to win the conservation argument and to bring the critical state of nature and culture to people’s attention.  The benefits of arising from the nature/ culture journey is that it will articulate people’s relationship to place which current approaches articulating the issues lack”.

About the author

Jamie Lund

Jamie, Lund, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Advisor, National Trust