Managing the Property

Management of a geographically and administratively complex UNESCO World Heritage Site such as the Dolomites requires great efforts to harmonise measures for governance and coordination of activities.

The key to overcoming the geographical complexities of the Dolomites lies in the application of the concept of the “serial” nature of the site to all expertise and forms of management present across the area, forging new and original connections between local bodies, services and existing administrative entities. The framework of reference is therefore network management, founded on principles of harmonisation, participation and cooperation.

Governance of the Dolomites World Heritage Site is therefore implemented through the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation, established by the Provinces and Regions involved in its recognition in 2010, following a specific commitment made to UNESCO, and by Operating Networks, inter-regional and inter-provincial working groups that  consist of Landscape Heritage and Protected Areas, Geological Heritage, Development, Sustainable Tourism and Mobility, Promotion of Sustainable Tourism, and, finally, Education and Scientific Research.

In this framework, Regional and Provincial Authorities, Local Authorities (Communities and Municipalities), Park Authorities (natural, regional and national) which have direct responsibility for the areas of the Dolomites World Heritage Site, contribute, each within the scope of the various administrative provisions and statutory duties, to the overall management of the Property in a compliant and consistent way.

The World Heritage Centre (WHC) periodically monitors the conservation status and management of the Site, using experts of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The purpose of these assessments, which include surveys on the ground, is to verify the degree of achievement of the goals set out in the multi-year plans approved by the Steering Committee of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation and evaluate the conservation and management status of the World Heritage Site (WHS).

Guiding principles for management of the Property

The governance system established for management of the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site sets out and, for certain aspects, implements the principles of collective management of shared assets that alpine cultures, and particularly those of the Dolomites, have traditionally adopted: administrative and legislative independence, sharing, community and reciprocal relationships.

Governance of the Dolomites World Heritage Site is based on four key elements, summarised below.

  • UNESCO Dolomites Foundation: in its representative and coordinative capacity, with its various institutional bodies promoting dialogue between Regional and Provincial Authorities, guiding scientific objectives and promoting relationships between the different actors across the area.
  • Operating Networks: these implement the concept of network management, resulting from the interpretation of the “serial” structure of the Dolomites World Heritage Site, bringing together provincial and regional technical personnel in thematic working groups.
  • Overall Management Strategy: this is the tool promoting and implementing network management, creating systems for human and financial resources across the area and integrating actions for conservation, communication and promotion of the Dolomites World Heritage Site.
  • Management plans of protected areas (parks, SACs and SPAs, Reserve Networks, etc.): these ensure a uniform level of protection and conservation of the habitats and species present on the Property. The Overall Management Strategy acts at the level of the entire area, integrating locally planned conservation measures and actions for protection measures into a single system.

Overall Management Strategy – OMS

2016 saw definition of the Overall Management Strategy, for shared governance of the Dolomites World Heritage Site aimed at upholding its universal value. The OMS, already indicated in the declaration of addition of the Site to the WHL (WHC Decision: 33 COM 8B.6, 26 June 2009), places the natural environment at the centre of social and economic interests and establishes cooperation as a platform for development of innovative policies aimed at conscious growth. This document is the result of dialogue and sets out the desire to move beyond passive conservation of the environment in favour of a Protected Landscape Approach. This is a flexible and dynamic tool, pooling various strategies and objectives that can be adapted on the basis of location and measured over time, with an underlying process involving mediation and balancing of different interests.

The Overall Management Strategy explores fundamental issues for long-term development of the Dolomites World Heritage Site (active conservation, scientific research, tourism, mobility, knowledge, education, capacity building, local dynamics, connections and conflict management) and is based on four pillars:

  • heritage refers to promoting conservation and leveraging geological and landscape relationships of the Property, supporting protection of the landscape and ecological connections in the different areas of the Dolomites;
  • experience refers to a transition to sustainable tourism, transforming the structural limits of the World Heritage Site into new opportunities for visitors;
  • community refers to increasing an awareness of local communities to develop professional skills and expertise based on the World Heritage Site;
  • system refers to supporting participation and inclusion on important issues, promoting dialogue and collaboration to guarantee active conservation of the Property.

Over the years, many different elements have contributed to the Overall Management Strategy, from studies on the dynamics of tourism to the definition of guidelines for management of the landscape and protected areas, establishment of technical working groups and creation of the #Dolomiti2040 participatory process. The latter involved a series of 11 local meetings in summer 2015, managed with the “World Café” participatory technique, which saw the participation of local administrations, park authorities, tourist industry consortia, environmental associations, hoteliers, farmers and professional associations, exploring four main macro-areas (tourism, social and economic development, active conservation and building relationships) to gather ideas and proposals for the future of the Dolomites.

For more information, please consult the Overall Management Strategy