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News | Dolomites UNESCO Forum: A heritage to live in

tonina-presidente-fondazione-dolomiti-unesco 10 years
30 October 2019

The third Dolomites UNESCO Forum took place in Sesto on Monday 30 September, focusing on the most urgent issues for the World Heritage Dolomites. The speakers explained the need to increase the involvement of local communities.

Living for the heritage is more than just passive existence

Local communities should be more involved in decision-making processes, and to achieve this we need to raise awareness of the value of our Heritage. But what kind of development model can we use, to reflect all the features of such a diverse territory? Harald Pechlaner, director of the Centre for Advanced Studies at Eurac Research, focused on the word “responsibility”, regarding it not as a form of obligation, but as an opportunity: As Pechlaner explained: “We should concentrate on marketing our territory rather than on marketing tourism. The emphasis should be not on the quality of experiences, but on the quality of life in the Dolomite regions. Promoting the territory is always a prerequisite for sustainable development, whether we are talking about developing the area or developing tourism.” Maria Hochgruber Kuenzer, Councillor for Urban Planning and Landscape Protection for the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, also supported the dual aims of increasing the active involvement of the population and promoting local traditions.

The Role of the Foundation

The following also took part in the Forum: Mario Tonina, Councillor for the Environment for the Autonomous Province of Trento and new President of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation; Marcella Morandini, Director of the Foundation; and Cesare Micheletti, Scientific Advisor for the Foundation. The Forum was also pleased to welcome Maria Carmela Giarratano, General Manager at the Department for the Protection of Nature and the Sea at the Ministry of the Environment, who coordinated the working group for the tenth anniversary of UNESCO recognition: “The recognition was the outcome of a complex process, and ten years on we need to value this heritage even more. Having an institution like the Foundation to manage it and produce a shared strategy makes all the difference, also with regard to involvement by the local areas.”

A look at other UNESCO sites

The subject of involving all the local players was also a common theme in scientific reports: Takamitsu Jimura, Professor of Tourism at Liverpool John Moores University, made the following point: “Goals can be established at an administrative level. But seeing that they’re achieved is primarily the responsibility of the people who live in the area, and who are in daily contact with the Dolomites.” Kelly Bricker of the University of Utah, which is chiefly concerned with the recreational use of Yellowstone National Park, stressed the importance of data and monitoring. This is an aspect that Eurac deals with in South Tyrol, also acquiring data for the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation throughout the whole area of the Dolomites. This role was highlighted by Anna Scuttari, Senior Researcher at the Centre for Advanced Studies at Eurac Research. Waltraud Watschinger, President of the Sesto Tourist Association, and Christoph Rainer, president of the Sextenkultur cultural association, also took part in the conference. Roberto Cerrato (of the Winegrowing Landscapes of the Langhe-Roero and Monferrato) and Harald Marencic (of the Common Wadden Sea secretariat) have had the task of introducing the public to examples of good practice.

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