Good examples of caring protection of local values in settlements

MÁTÉ Klaudia

(From previous issue No.40)


Nowadays, maintenance and protection of our heritage gains more and more attention. Development cannot be successful and harmonic without integrating this heritage. Processes aiming at the preservation of traditions in the rural areas are not simply serving the goal of protecting values: in the long term, they also have the power to strengthen identities and build communities. However, in the light of continuous landscape and settlement development, there is a very legitimate question: what is value, tradition, heritage? After defining these, we face even more questions: why do we protect these values, with whom, and for whom? The answers differ in each region of Hungary, following various methods. The process is not set in stone, but the goal is the same everywhere: protecting values together with the community, for the community.

Several disciplines deal with the question of protecting the landscape heritage. There are lots of analogies in their conceptual backgrounds and legal systems. Unique landscape values, protected natural areas and our national heritage all form distinct categories. For experts thinking on the scale of landscapes, artificial, natural and intellectual heritage are all values. The basis for protection is the connection to the specific landscape. The notion of values belonging to a landscape incorporates the elements of cultural and natural heritage closely attached to that landscape. These values are all of social, ethnographic and ethnic significance, and form an integral part of the identity of a community, group, or, in some cases, individual.

Along with the protection of values appearing in the landscape, the intellectual and cultural values connected to that landscape must also be conserved – for example, the traditional ecological knowledge of individuals and communities living in the landscape. As Berkes says „…traditional ecological knowledge is a cumulative body of knowledge, practice, and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationship of living beings (including humans) with one another and with their environment.”

Protecting local heritage can be successful in the long term if there is someone who knows the real value of that specific heritage – be it a building, a tradition, an agricultural method etc. –, and if there is someone who maintains it and carries it on. In different regions of the country, local communities have launched many initiatives to protect their values – either concurrently, or sharing their experiences with each other. A shared element, and a good tool for a caring protection of values are “greenways”. Mesés Hetés Greenway, Cserhát Greenway and the “Salt Road” of Hortobágy have all stood the test of time, and earned the local people's trust. The good practices described in the study show that it is not only top-down initiatives that can protect the values of a region or settlement. On the contrary, caring protection of values makes sense only in collaboration with local people.


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