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Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida

Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida, proposed by Spain as a best practice, is interesting as a case study for the following aspects: consortium, stakeholder collaboration, comprehensive management strategy, research, training, sustainable urban and economic development, special protection plan, creation of private sponsorship models, steering plans, visitors rules.

Summary provided by State Party

The Consortium “Monumental, Historical-Artistic and Archaeological City of Mérida”, as managing body of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida, assumes from 1996 its protection and ensures the conservation of its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) through acomprehensive Management Strategy, whose development can be considered an example of good practice: The Consortium, brings together all authorities with responsibility for Historical Heritage, what facilitates the comprehensive management of the property, carrying all the actions in a coordinated and agile way. Also different citizen’s associations take part within the Consortium, thus participating in the management of the property and gather the biggest possible consensus The comprehensive management of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida covers all the necessary scopes of actuation in order to get the final objective to preserve and improve the Ensemble for the use and enjoyment of the society. These scopes of actuation are:

Administration

the Consortium assumes all the administrative competencies with regard to heritage, which affect the Archaeological Ensemble with the aim to assure its legal protection, including the Authorization of Urban Works and the authorization of Archaeological Interventions

Intervention

the Consortium executes and/or monitors all the archaeological actions that take place within the Ensemble. we may point out the creation of an archaeology service which carries out free excavations for those citizens who build up houses with no profit aim, what enables the execution over excavations and, therefore, the documentation, research and improvement of the Archaeological Ensemble.

Documentation

the Consortium has created its own documentation system based on three premises: the Consideration of the city as a “single site”, the establishment of a Methodological Unit of archaeological register and Extending the documentation to all the historical sequence. This way all the documentation about the Archaeological Ensemble is systematized and at disposal of researches, enabling the knowledge about the property and its subsequent presentation to the public.

Research

we shall highlight the creation of the Archaeology Institute of Mérida in 2004. This centre has three lines of research: the archaeological research of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida; a regional approach focused on Extremadura and finally a national and international approach It is also exemplary, the edition and publication of the magazine Archaeological Excavations, where all the reports from archaeological interventions in the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida are kept.

Conservation

the Special Plan for Protection of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida elaborated in year 2000 by the Consortium, allow the coexistence among the urban development and the preservation and improvement of the property because previously to every urban action in the city, we carry it out the archaeological process along all the stages of the excavation, documentation, preservation, research and diffusion, ensuring the preservation of the values. It also creates different preservation and integration possibilities for the remains, but always considering constructive solutions so not to stop the growing up of the city and compensate the owners and works developers the possible lost because of the necessary heritage preservation.

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.