Mixed Properties and Rural Landscapes
21. The Rapporteur, Mr. Chabason, brought up the question of mixed cultural/natural properties and particularly of rural landscapes, which meet criterion (iii) for natural sites as "exceptional combinations of natural and cultural elements". Mr. Chabason described three types of problems connected with such properties. The first was the question of identification of exceptionally harmonious, beautiful, man-made landscapes as epitomised by the terraced rice-fields of S.E. Asia, the terraced fields of the Mediterranean Basin or by certain vineyard areas in Europe. In this respect, criterion (iii) would have to be expanded to facilitate the identification of such properties. The second question concerned the evolution (equilibrium, transformation and regression) of such living landscapes in a similar manner as the evolution of historic towns. The third problem concerned the integrity of such landscapes which are seldom protected under national jurisdiction and require the concerted effort of the various land-owners and land-users in order to maintain their characteristics.
22. Finally, Mr. Chabason felt that the Operational Guidelines of the Convention did not give sufficient guidance to States Parties regarding such "mixed" properties and suggested that, on the occasion of the next Bureau session, ICOMOS and IUCN call a meeting of a group of experts, including geographers, to elaborate a working framework for the identification and nomination of such properties.
23. Several States Members of the Committee expressed their agreement with Mr. Chabason's analysis and proposals. In particular, the representative of Italy described the difficulty of maintaining the traditional agricultural practices of the land around, a given cultural monument. She also referred to the First World Conference on Cultural Parks, organised by the U.S. National Parks Service at Mesa Verde on 16-21 September 1984 and at which there had been a long debate on how to define a "cultural park".
24. Mr. Batisse recalled that the spirit of the World Heritage Convention was to place both the cultural and natural heritage on an equal footing. Accordingly, there should not be a polarisation towards either "culture" or "nature" although there had perhaps been such a tendency in the past as States Parties had initially nominated the properties which clearly met either the cultural or natural criteria. In this respect, the representative of ICOMOS emphasised the influence of the natural environment on the cultures which have built the monuments of World Heritage quality. In his opinion, however, the role of the Convention was not to "fix" such landscapes but rather to conserve their harmony and stability within a dynamic, evolutive framework. IUCN recalled that one of the eight types of "protected area" recognised by their organisation was the "protected landscape" which included, for example, the national parks of the United Kingdom which consist essentially of man-modified and man-maintained landscapes. He warned, however, that care should be taken in the identification of such landscapes to ensure the nomination of only those properties of outstanding universal value. IUCN was to discuss the topic of "mixed" World Heritage properties at the IUCN General Assembly to be held in Madrid on 2-14 November 1984. Accordingly, the Committee requested IUCN to consult with ICOMOS and the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) to elaborate guidelines for the identification and nomination of mixed cultural/natural rural properties or landscapes to be presented to the Bureau and the Committee at their forthcoming sessions.