The World Heritage Convention of 1972 is making a World Heritage List to which signatory States Parties can designate cultural and natural landscapes or gardens of “outstanding universal value”. This UNESCO Convention is one of the few successful efforts of worldwide cultural politics. The Convention has already made widely accepted contributions to the development of conservation and restoration in theory and practise. An example is the Nara Document on Authenticuty of 1994 which led to a new definition of the authentic values of monuments and sites.

To the present day about one hundred cultural landscapes have been included in the World Heritage List, which amounts to about 7% of the total number of cultural and natural goods.

The term “cultural landscape” as a World Heritage was introduced after a long and intensive series of meetings of international experts. They finally agreed on the definition that cultural landscapes “are cultural properities and represent the ‘combined works of nature and man’,illustrative of the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical contraints and/or opportunities presented by their natural environment and of successive, social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal”.

The concept of “cultural landscape” can be divided into two main categories. The first category includes “clearly defined landscape designed and created intentionally by man”. This can range from garden and parkland landscape to polders. The second main category is called the “organically evolved landscape”. It is the landscape that “has developed its present form by association with and in response to its natural environment”.

In Europe it is historical gardens that are predominant in the World Heritage List: Schönbrunn in Austria, Versailles and Fontainebleau in France, Würzburg, Potsdam and Wörlitz in Germany, Botanical Garden Padova, Villa Adriana, Villa d’Este, Caserta in Italy, Alhambra and Aranjuez in Spain, Drottningholm in Sweden, Blenheim and Kew Gardens in United Kindoms.

However, in Asia, Africa, America and Australia monuments of nature outnumber the cultural landscapes: Wood Buffalo National Park and Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks in Canada, Hawai Volcanoes National Park and Grand Canyon National Park in United States of America, Serra da Capivara National Park in Brazil, Manu National Park in Peru, Galapagos Islands in Equador, Great Barrier Reef, Willandra Lakes Region and Tasmania Wildernes in Australia.

In 1982 ICOMOS-IFLA International Committee on Cultural Landscape took in hand editing the Charter of Florence for the restoration of historical gardens. This year it has committed itself to propose a universal inventory and /or charter in order to celebrate with dignity the theme of “Cultural Landscapes and Monuments of Nature”, designated by UNESCO as the International Day for Monuments and Sites. This charter was created as an indispensable prerequisite for the registration or compilation of historical gardens, but with due care may also be applied to the other types of cultural landscapes.

A first edition of this charter was presented at the meeting of our International Scientific Committee in Verbania (Italy) in October 2006. After the necessary verifications and corrections it will be ratified at our next meeting in Norway in September 2007. This is the text presented by Committee members Sonia Berjam and Monica Luengo:

The International Committee on Cultural Landscapes' aspiration of counting with a universal inventory card for the cultural landscapes is possibly a utopia. The complexity of the matter begins with the term "cultural landscape" of recent incorporation to the heritage management field. Since about a decade ago the concepts have varied widely. A notorious qualitative change developed with an important territorial reach and, also, the "monument" is no more considered an isolated landmark.

Following Leon Pressouyre: "The disappearance of the barriers which divided the cultural heritage from the natural heritage and the closer attention to the immaterial heritage values mistreated and weakened by globalization ... reveals a long reach conceptual evolution, .... A common and indivisible heritage, in which the interaction between man and nature is taken completely into account, is substituting little by little in our minds this fragmented heritage."

Metchild Rössler says: "In 1994 a meeting of experts identified the voids an existing in the Wolrd Heritage List. The experts considered for that an anthropological approach through space and time and call the attention over the following aspects:
A) the coexistence between man and Earth, such as population movements (nomadism, migrations) settlements, ways of subsistence and technological evolution and
B) man in society, such as human interactions, cultural coexistence and spirituality and creative expression ....."

In this way the cultural landscape category of the World Heritage Convention was born, which defines it as a construction in which "man's and nature's work are combined". There lies the enormous problem of our job because: How to inventory the interaction between man and environment? And how, starting from this difficulty, to inventory in the same card Beijing's Summer Palace, Philippines' rice terraces, Versailles' gardens, the Qadisha valley, the Cuban Valle de Viñales, the Alhambra patios, Uluru Kata park, Sissinghurst, Falun, Sweden copper mines or New York's Central Park?, to put out just a few outstanding examples.

The beginning is, therefore, difficult, as we are dealing with very novel concepts. And, it is precisely this new vocabulary which fails. So far we luck an adequate one: many terms are so new that we haven't yet reach an agreement on their meaning. Furthermore, depending on the region we'll find several meaning for the same word. Even in the more developed countries, the "cultural landscape" concept and term has not been included in general texts, even less in the legal ones which can affect the heritage conservation. It would be therefore convenient to count with a "basic cultural landscape lexicon": another work to be done...

Simultaneously with the above mentioned process, a cultural relationship between regions and continents unknown until now has been developed, as well as a "transversal" look to the heritage in which different disciplines participates as a universal attempt to recover and preserve spaces and times of each society and community. The apparent and so often mentioned "globalization" could suggest certain easiness when the task begins, but behind it enormous differences and difficulties hide.

There is no doubt that after 25 years of the Florence Charter issue – which states in article 9: "The preservation of historic gardens depends on their identification and listing ....."- progress has been achieved in the identification of historical gardens and inventories construction... principally in Europe and the USA. The European spirit has prevailed in the diffusion and action in this sense due –among other reasons- to the possibilities given by geographical proximity, the availability of intellectual and economical resources, and the political willingness of its public officials. But when we analyze the state-of-the-art in Latin America or Africa, for example, we realize that the gap between regions is a century and a quarter old. So, while in some regions (Europe and North America) from brochures about card and inventory design and preparation up to handbooks for the historical gardens and cultural landscapes appraisal have been edited, in other regions, not even the basic task has been started.

The ICOMOS-IFLA Committee on Cultural Landscapes has decided to undertake a difficult job that will need continuous update that in principle is designed to facilitate the initial work in those –in this aspect- more underdeveloped regions. We also understand, from the Committee, that this document could seam insufficient to those countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Portugal, United Kingdom, Switzerland, USA, etc.) where inventories and catalogs have already been carried out (2) in some cases since decades ago with scientific precision.

Notwithstanding, in this first occasion it is our aim that all the initiatives and achievements of the so called First World countries reach less favoured and involved ones whose heritage is in higher danger. One of our major responsibilities is to identify and protect this human heritage at risk and to guarantee that the cultural landscapes become correctly recognized in the international world.

But, even for the countries already counting with inventories, it would be convenient to update them with new ideas and concepts, primarily the one of "cultural landscape" or new technologies not considered until now as football fields, for example, which -in certain countries- have achieved a high tangible and intangible value; or the thousands of vernacular Caribbean gardens which have and outstanding social value due to the rites performed there and the symbolic value implied; as well as so many other examples spread around the world.

As a consequence, becomes evident the need of an opening to the diversity of typologies, categories, regions, communities... many possibilities that obviously are outside the reach of this humble inventory card which will be necessary to adapt to each particular situation.

In any case, in spite of the mentioned troubles, it is mandatory to detect and register the today existing cultural landscapes and to build up an inventory list to act as memory and as activity detonator. According to the old Greek saying "nobody loves what he doesn't know", this Committee understands this inventory (3) or identification list as a first face of a sequence directed to:

- discover a hidden heritage,
- promote human resources (informers, specialists, professionals nets of national reach)
- establish organizations competent in the matter (creation of provincial, regional, national and international center networks)
- promote multiple tasks, such as population enlightment about the cultural landscape values, education in all levels and develop specialized teachings, establish ties with the national and international economic communities, for the generation of economic, tourist and/or employment resources in different areas.
- establish diffusion and protection action plans.
- establish restoration and rehabilitation programs.
- study and regulate urban and landscape codes in accordance with the value given to the different inventoried cultural landscapes.

After a first approach in our April 2006 Coimbra meeting, and thanks to the suggestions and help of the Committee members, we present this new Report and Universal Cultural Landscape registry and/or inventory card.

Our aim was to create a “worldwide inventory/register card” simple enough to receive and incorporate suggestions and modifications as well as adaptability to many different and particular cases and regions of the world.

So, we are proposing a unique card that can be filled up in two ways: partial (A) or total (B):

A- simple, easy, basic, fast and effective. Many regions do not have available neither the means nor the experts needed to carry out a deeper analysis and will mostly depend on enthusiast amateurs, NGO's, welfare associations, doubtless, people that possible are still capable of furnishing the last data about cultural landscapes that, without them, will be lost forever.

B- recommended for persons with a higher instruction allowing a deeper knowledge of the property and its possibilities.

We consider both ways as a first face in the construction of a national and international cultural landscape inventory, but in no case as a substitution for the more much complex already existing national catalogs.

The card has to be clear enough as to be used in all countries and regions (and their great variety of cultural landscapes). We prefer the “open” system instead of the multiple-choice because regions and countries have very different examples and approaches to the subject and the card should be useful to everybody.(4) As an example:
Style: we cannot fix options because gardens are very different in the West and the East and so a list would be endless. We must give the enquirer these possibilities: a) insert the regional types; b) classify them by him/herself.

Of course, it would be advisable to use new technologies to obtain a complete computerized data base, and that is why we recommend using WORD or EXCEL software, but should this not be possible, paper version will always be welcomed.

Another very important point to consider is the cultural landscape age. As, in general, a fifty year period is considered as the general average to appoint a propriety as "cultural heritage", in the case of historical gardens ad cultural landscapes we propose thirty three years (a generation period) basically due to the fragility of all ecosystems (landscape or garden) and also to equilibrate young regional histories to the more centennial or millennial cultures that live together today in the world.

In any case, we understand that inventorying is only a small part of a long process that has to be taken into account by all countries:

1. Creation of a task force supported by a university, governmental bureau or private/public institution. Study the way to get in connection with our Committee to get counseling.

2. Adaptation of the "register and/or inventory universal card" to the specific country taking into account what has been ruled by the international documents on the subject (Venice and Florence Charters, UNESCO Guidelines...)

3. Buildup of a pre-inventory by mean of informers and witnesses.

4. Carry out the required researches by specialized personnel order to upgrade the inventoried examples.

5. Generate the inventory.

6. Obtain the adequate protection legislation

7. Apply to the UNESCO World Heritage List for the inclusion of the exceptional examples.

8. Maintain a constant follow up of the inventoried properties' shape, conservation and changes.

9. Publish and divulge the results.

We suggest the ICOMOS IFLA Cultural Landscape Scientific Committee to publish a web page where this proposed "register and/or inventory universal card" as well as other card models developed in different countries could be found. Also, we can include other links needed to access useful articles, other inventories belonging to de largest possible number of countries, with the hope that all of them could help in this work that we consider of the outmost importance for our cultural heritage conservation. We, therefore, request the collaboration of all professionals involved.

(1)Metchild Rössler. “Los paisajes culturales y la Convención del Patrimonio Mundial Cultural y Natural: Resultados de Reuniones Temáticas Previas” in:

(2)In the United Kingdom, for example, the inventory work began twenty years ago by NGO's and today it includes thousands of gardens. See: GOODCHILD, Peter, “Estudios y registros de parques y jardines históricos en el Reino Unido”, Jardins et Sites Historiques, Journal Scientifique, ICOMOS, Madrid, 1993. For Italy, see: SCAZZOSI, Lionella, Giardini, Parchi e “Architetture Vegetali” Storiche. Conoscenza, Tutela e Conservazione. In Portugal, ALMEIDA ESTADAO, M. L. de, in: Salvaguarda dos jardins históricos a traves do inventário, (Director Cristina Castel Branco, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade Tecnica de Lisboa, Lisboa, 2005) proposes a comparative study of European cases and a inventory card. In Spain, a detailed study and inventory proposal was requested by the Ministry on Culture to the CITEREA Bureau in 1996. It will be published soon, including a proposal for a unique European card. Deep researches have been performed in France by Michel Conan in 1985 and then by Michel Racine, resulting in a wide catalogue of 1,600 protected gardens. The Austrian catalogue includes more than 1,500 historical gardens. In the USA, The HALS Program (Historic American Landscapes Survey) also has its inventory card and includes several thousand landscapes. This catalogue began in a nationwide size in 2000, although several initiatives are as old as 1930. Also Canada has a strong work in this sense. In Argentina, a Seminario de Especialistas sobre el Inventario de Espacios Verdes Públicos was held in Buenos Aires in 1997 but no inventory has been done since then. The landscape heritage and historic gardens inventory has begun in Uruguay and in Mexico. Venezuela is undertaking an interesting initiative through the Institute for Cultural Heritage (Ministry of Culture). Recently, the Japanese historical gardens begun to be inventoried and in Australia they are specially working with cultural landscape. We apologize if not everybody is listed. We assume that there are many other examples to be quoted but this article's extension does not allow us to do so.

(3)We understand the word “inventory”, in a wide sense: “Although we can consider an Inventory a product per se in the emphasis of our social memory it does not constitute an objective itself but it must be conceived as a tool to transform the reality, as an instrument of protection, preservation, rehabilitation and revalorization of heritage policies, as a new regard to the common properties of a society for them to become fundamental landmark in the construction of its identity. BERJMAN Sonia, “Filosofía, necesidad e implementación de un Inventario de Espacios Verdes Públicos”, In: Seminario de Especialistas. Inventario de Espacios Verdes Públicos, Buenos Aires, 1997.

(4)The references about the card systems are multiple and preferences exist for both. One should always consider the inventory extension, means and objective to be more accurate. See: Seminario de especialistas. Inventario de Espacios verdes, Buenos Aires, 1997; CAZZANI, A., BORIANI, M., GIAMBRUNO, C. SCAZOSSI, L, Censimento delle architetture vegetali di intersse storico. Metodología e indagine, Regione Lombardia, Milano, 1997; FERRO, S. Fundamentos para elaborar el inventario de Paisajes Culturales y Jardines y Sitios Históricos en la Región de Centroamérica y el Caribe. Facultad de Arquitectura. ISPJAE, La Habana 1999; KELLER, T and G, How to Evaluate and Nominate Designed Historic Landscapes, US Department of the Interior, Nacional Park Service, Nacional Register Bulletin n.18, Washington DC: RAMSAY, J., How to read the Nacional Estate values of Gardens, Australian Heritage Commission, 1991; CARAPINHA, A. Inventario da Arte Paisagista em Portugal, Universidade de Evora, 1985. TEJEDOR, A., “El inventario de jardines de interés patrimonial de Andalucía. Modelos y propuesta de una base de datos”, Boletín del Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico, Año VII, Junio 1999, nº 27.

Dernière mise à jour: March 5th 2007 -