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Committee Decisions

35 COM 8B.43

Cultural Properties - Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (Colombia)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-11/35.COM/8B and WHC-11/35.COM/INF.8B1,

2. Inscribes the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia, Colombia, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (v) and (vi);

3. Takes note of the following provisional statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

 

Brief synthesis

The Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (CCLC) is a cultural productive landscape in which natural, economic and cultural elements are combined with an extraordinarily high degree of homogeneity in the form of the coffee plantations and the landscape. A few decades after the arrival of the settlers in Antioquia in the XIXth century, the region's economy and culture developed around a deeply-rooted coffee tradition, which has left a unique legacy defining regional culture, with rich manifestations of music, food, architecture, and even education. The features of the CCLCare the result of the adaptation process of these settlers, a process which persists to this day. The typical coffee farm in the CCLCis located on a challenging landscape of steep mountains with "slopes of over 25% (55 degrees) which articulate the form and design of the coffee landscape, its architectural typology, and the lifestyle of its communities; thus, its authenticity". The combination of plots and the distances between coffee plants and shade trees form symmetrical geometric figures that give the landscape its singular characteristics. The homogeneity is also evident in the tradition of 'small plots', resulting in the region's typical landownership of small farm production system, shaping the distinctive way of life of the Cafeteros, defining the legacies that have been passed down from generation to generation. Furthermore, as a productive landscape, the CCLC contains significant natural and aesthetic attributes, unique to a coffee region, as it houses a large number of native forests and biological corridors, considered strategic for the conservation of global biodiversity. The typical architecture in the urban settlements is a fusion between the Spanish cultural patterns and the indigenous culture of the region adapted, as well to the coffee growing process with their sliding roofs. Rural settlements are built with coffee cultivation in mind. 'The house is both the dwelling unit and the center of economic activity'. The search for a more suitable material gave rise to the more flexible and dynamic 'bahareque': a series of walls built on a wooden framework with vertical and horizontal beams and slanting braces, covered by 'esterilla de guadua', a layer of bamboo well known for its resistance and malleability.

Criterion (v): The Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia is an outstanding example of a centenary cultural, sustainable and productive landscape, in which the collective effort of several generations of campesino families, forged exceptional social, cultural and productive institutions, while at the same time, generating innovative practices in the management of natural resources in extraordinarily challenging landscape conditions. The typical coffee farm in the CCLC is located on a difficult landscape of steep mountains, which articulate the form and design of the coffee landscape, its architectural typology, and the lifestyle of its communities. They managed to create an unparalleled cultural identity where the institutional aspect related to the CCLC does not equal any other coffee growing site in the world. 

Criterion (vi): The 100-year old coffee tradition is the most representative symbol of national culture in Colombia, for which Colombia has gained worldwide recognition. The coffee culture has led to rich tangible and intangible manifestations in the territory, with a unique legacy, included but not limited to music, cuisine, architecture, and even education, legacies that have been passed down from generation to generation.  The architectural typology, unique to the coffee farms and most of the buildings in the urban areas, evolved through the use of available indigenous materials, in particular the unique native species known as guadua angustifolia. The CCLC represents a harmonious integration of the productive process, the social organization and the housing typology, unique in the world, and necessary for the development of the culture of coffee in such a challenging rural area.

Integrity

The property's elements of social adaptation to a unique use of land, and the development of highly specific cultural and social traditions developed around the coffee production, demonstrate the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. The cohesion of these characteristics and their resistance to change although suffering from the impact of the temporary price crises, demonstrate its high level of integrity. The collective values of the global uniqueness of CCLC promote an active sustainable human development in the cultural landscape. 

Authenticity

The Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia is an authentic reflection of a centenary process of man's adaptation to geological, hydrological, climatic, and natural conditions of this area known nationally and internationally as the 'Axis of Coffee'. The CCLC shows an extraordinary degree of authenticity, with no contemporary incongruous addition to its traditional architectural pattern and no substantial modifications to the small towns located in the main as well as the buffer area of the site. Aspects as traditions, language and other forms of intangible heritage, have been preserved, mostly by owners and the community who have a high sense of social appropriation of their cultural heritage.

Protection and management requirements

The management plan is detailed and comprehensive. This is based on an inclusive institutional strategy with all concerned stakeholders including territorial entities (local authorities and councils), regional environmental authorities (Corporaciones regionales autonomas), cultural institutions (Ministry of Culture), and some from specific sectors (the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation). The plan is also supported by research and training institutions such as regional universities and their respective research departments. Within this context, the economic and social well-being of all the inhabitants, their appropriation of the cultural heritage, and environmental sustainability are set as the principles for the Management Plan of the landscape. The management framework contains an action programme including short, medium and long-term actions. As a result, some of the landscape's values are under pressure from different sources, the management and protection plans associated to the inscription of the CCLC on the World Heritage List would immediately help counteract these pressures, and guarantee the conservation of the outstanding cultural values of the landscape.

 

4. Recommends that the State Party gives consideration to:

a) Continue the undertaking of the inventory of the farmhouses, urban architecture and associated buildings,

b) Continue enhancing adequate protection for both cultural and natural parameters, including for buildings in the semi-urban and rural areas and for the overall landscapes,

c) Not to authorize any mining activity within the property and its immediate surroundings.  

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Colombia
Session: 35COM