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SGang Gwaay

SGang Gwaay, proposed by Canada as a best practice, is interesting as a case study for the following aspects: innovative management practices, active commitment of local people (leadership role of local people), mandatory courses for staff, awareness raising and understanding the site thanks to innovative media strategies.

Summary provided by State Party

Cooperative management is theoretically an ideal way to meet the differing needs of multiple parties with a common goal. In Gwaii Haanas and at SGang Gwaay it is the reality. In 1993, Canada and the Haida signed the Gwaii Haanas Agreement and for almost 20 years the Government of Canada via the Parks Canada Agency and the Haida Nation have worked together to protect the lands and waters of this natural and cultural treasure. The opening paragraphs of the Agreement state that the parties agree to disagree on who owns the lands and waters and that regardless, the lands and waters, they agree to work together to protect them. A feature of the Agreements is a mechanism for dealing with issues that cannot be resolved cooperatively at the management table. A testament to the success of the Archipelago Management Board,(AMB) is that this feature has never had to be implemented. Over the years numerous organizations, governments, and first nations have visited Gwaii Haanas and the AMB to learn from their experience. This breadth of cooperative management experience is a best practice that the AMB can share with other sites that are experiencing challenges related to cooperative management of their site.

Beyond the AMB and its successful model of cooperative management, SGang Gwaay/Gwaii Haanas benefits from significant numbers of Haida people who dedicate their careers to protecting, presenting and managing SGang Gwaay as Parks Canada staff. A minimum of 50% of the team at Gwaii Haanas are of Haida ancestry which is in keeping with both the Gwaii Haanas Agreement and Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement. The Haida Gwaii Watchmen programme, funded by Parks Canada, provides an additional opportunity for those of Haida ancestry to get involved in the day to day caretaking of this treasured place. Through these opportunities, descendents of those that once inhabited the village are now protecting, educating and interpreting the history, culture and connection between the land, the sea and the Haida people. Ensuring the connection of people and place continues is a best practice that the AMB can share with other sites that are seeking to involve first nations and/or local people in the management of their site.

One-off Initiative for the recognition of best practices

The World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy, adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 2011, responds to the identified needs of a diverse and growing audience for capacity building for World Heritage conservation and management activities. Development of resource materials such as best practice case studies and communication tools are among the activities foreseen by the strategy to improve these capacities.

An example of an innovative capacity building initiative is the recently concluded Recognition of Best Practice in World Heritage Management. This initiative, requested by the World Heritage Committee and carried out within the framework of the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention in 2012, solicited applications from World Heritage properties which had demonstrated new and creative ways of managing their sites. Twenty-three submissions were received and evaluated by a 10-member international selection committee which included the representatives of the Convention’s Advisory Bodies, ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN. The Historic Town of Vigan in the Philippines was chosen as a best practice achieved with relatively limited resources, a good integration of the local community in many aspects of the sustainable conservation and management of the property and with an interesting multi-faceted approach to the protection of the site.

Management practices recognized as being successful and sustainable can include everything from involving local people in site management, to creating innovative policies and regulating tourism. There are sites that include students from local schools in the management of the site (Slovenia), train local inhabitants as tour guides (Peru), or even put up nylon fences to protect villagers from straying tigers from the Sundarbans National Park (India). Sharing these practices helps other sites find solutions that work.

This initiative provides incentives for States Parties and site managers to reflect on their management practices and explore improvement possibilities.