Artisanal salt production
Photo credit: Margardia Ferriera da Silva

By Elaine Azzopardi, Jasper Kenter, Juliette Young, Chris Leakey, Seb O’Connor, Simone Martino, Wesley Flannery, Lisa Sousa, Dimitra Mylona, Katia Frangoudes, Irène Béguier, Maria Pafi, Arturo Rey da Silva, Jacob Ainscough, Manos Koutrakis, Margarida Ferreira da Silva, and Cristina Pita.

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There are strong links between heritage and nature which while recognised, are not often considered in environmental management. Legitimate management must understand and incorporate multiple values and we argue that inclusion of the heritage value of the environment is underdeveloped partly because of the sectoral divide between natural and cultural heritage management. To facilitate better integration, we developed a values-based framework that provides opportunities for more integrated management by promoting a common language and understanding of values. The framework links key concepts from environmental values research to heritage and provides a guide for elucidating how a heritage perspective influences how people relate to the natural environment.

The framework is based on our work with coastal communities in Scotland, Ireland, France, Greece and Portugal to ask what they valued as their cultural heritage. We did not predefine what heritage is but encouraged participants to identify what they considered to have heritage value. The results included buildings, sites and monuments; places; maritime heritage; practices and associated knowledge; memory and cultural landscapes. But they also valued natural elements such as the coast, beaches and rivers as well as species as cultural heritage. This shows that people do not see heritage as something that exists as separate to the environment but also value the natural environment itself as heritage.

Diverse values underpinned the identification of something as heritage and influenced how people related to heritage objects. Valuing the natural environment as heritage can influence what outcomes stakeholders desire and work towards. Including a heritage perspective can reveal synergies or highlight value conflicts when making management decisions. Recognising the heritage value of the environment can help decision-makers identify win/win outcomes and consider, justify and/or manage mixed outcomes.