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Nature-Culture Dialogues

Nature-Culture Journeys: where have we been, Where are we going?

  19 August 2019

introductory session with Steve Brown

In this ‘first-cab-off-the-rank’ talk, Steve Brown provided a brief background to the Nature-Culture/Culture-Nature Journeys (NCJ); he outlined the proposed sessions at the ICOMOS 2019 Scientific Symposium (Marrakesh; 17 October 2019); summarised some of the proposals submitted for the IUCN World Conservation Congress (Marseilles; June 2019); and provided information on the Culture-Nature Journey Theme at the ICOMOS 20th Scientific Symposium (Sydney; 5-9 October 2019). Steve argued that the latter Symposium will be a significant milestone in reflecting on the NCJ’s achievements and outcomes to date – and for setting future directions. 

We started out ‘talk and discuss’ meetings of the ISCCL Working Group on naturecultures. Steve talked for 20min after which we had an informal discussion. Thanks to those joining in on what we found to be a productive discussion and certainly got our minds thinking about some of the points discussed. After these meetings we had a one-week (or so) email chain of short emails concerning the discussion between those who attended the meeting, making up the summary that is included in this email. A recording of this talk will also be circulated with this summary to those who were not able to attend this talk.


Steve Brown (SB)

Nupur Prothi (NP)

Fran Han (FH)

Brenda Barret (BB)

Jane Lennon (JL)

Diane Menzies (DM)

Marike Franklin (MF)


Rouran Zang (RZ)

Nancy Pollock-Ellwand (NPE)

Maya Ishizawa (MI)

Nora Mitchell (NM)

Liana Jansen (LJ)


There seemed to be support for working toward the development of some kind of principles document on naturecultures (SB circulated the IUCN WCC session proposal that was developed with Jessica Brown, and NM). It is the intention to submit a similar session proposal to the ICOMOS GA2020 Culture-Nature Journey (Sydney, Australia; 1-10 October 2020).SB
In the big picture a statement of Principles is needed and ICOMOS at the ADCOM meeting in Marrakesh in October is already talking about the outlines of such a document.  However, it is critical that this be discussed with many partners and from many perspectives, and the IUCN needs to be at the table.BB
Discussion of including a summary of the origins of a N-C separation, and that this was not necessarily the case outside of the developing field of academic and government ‘heritage’ and ‘practice’ (BB). SB
FH highlighted that there are many inspiring references in environmental philosophy to reveal the deep root of Western separation, and such philosophical rethinking is the start point of today’s C-N journey (Steve, remember the background presentation to kick off the C-N project in IUCN headquarter?)  It is also important to know the wide international influence of such separation on C and N conservation, such as wilderness; and the lessons we learned. History is important.FH
NPE reported back from an upstream mission to Norway where nature and culture are so intertwined.  Understanding the reason for this divide between Nature and Culture is critical. DM will be visiting a site where a mining company plans to pump sludge into the nearby fjord in Norway, and attend a two-day workshop at the Arctic University and Academy.NP, DM
FH expressed her concern at the growing take up of the term ‘wilderness’ (typical area of the detachment of culture and nature) in contemporary China. Many countries suffered by this concept and conservation model, and there are many references (JL, NM, BB in the group). Should and how might this be countered? SB, FH
Wilderness is still very powerful and now it’s coming into developing countries, including China, a country where culture and nature are traditionally connected. Fran showed concern for the forthcoming World Wilderness Congress to be held in India, 2020.SB, FH
Suggestions of inclusion of case studies – there are good and bad examples (JL, NP). NPE hopes that we could have some instructive case studies/examples where the approach to natural/cultural resources has been integrated successfully. MF provided a case example of a web-based, online platform within the discussion of accessibility that NP highlighted by testing the possibility of short videos.  SB, MF NP
A link to the case study – Stellenbosch Heritage Inventory is attached here: http://www.stellenboschheritage.co.za/phase-4  (completed January 2019). MF
Taking accessibility, a step further by potentially using podcasts in combination to the documents produced (A digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device). Even perhaps applying it to this naturescultures dialogue platform. MF. NP, MI
Support was shown. I think it could be very interesting as a series “Monthly Dialogues on NatureCulture Integration”. I would be happy to help you on implementing this idea if you need any support. MI, NP, BB
How should we frame the Working Group’s monthly dialogues? Should there be a continuing threat through these conversations rather than disconnected topics? SB
Perhaps the monthly focused topic could be 30 minutes long follow by a more general discussion and information sharing. Perhaps we can pick a topic to focus on for at least part of the time, addressing the action items listed that can be completed (this list is included under action items).BB
How does the Work Rural Landscape Initiative fit into to this discussion?BB
If there is interest, BB could also provide a summary in her newsletter the Living Landscape Observer. We have started a column that covers updates in the Culture/Nature Journey. I could put something in every month on the topics we discuss.BB


1. Divide of Nature and culture 

a) A summary of the history of the divide between Nature and Culture (to include as a 10 min feedback in the next talk)?

b) A list of references in environmental philosophy to reveal the deep root of Western separation (Fran, Steve?)

2. A list of principles starting from the IUCN 2016 Mālama Honua, and ICOMOS. 2017 Yatra aur Tammanah document.

Mālama Honua: https://www.iucn.org/sites/dev/files/malama-honua-en.pdf

Yatra aur Tammanah: <https://www.icomos.org/images/DOCUMENTS/General_Assemblies/19th_Delhi_2017/19th_GA_Outcomes/ICOMOS_GA2017_CNJ_YatraStatement_final_EN_20180207circ.pdf>

3. List of partners of different perspectives that need to be part of this principle document (IUCN, IFLA etc.)

4. Collect a list of examples of some of the best practice of merging C/N from around the globe. The list should include a summary of those efforts. The focus should be on best practice, although we could learn from both good and bad efforts.

6. Organise a talk that covers the concept of ‘Wilderness’ – a concept many countries applied, but suffered by as a conservation model. (Fran, Jane, Nora, Brenda?). Who should we engage with for the Wilderness Congress in India in 2020?

This meeting:

Steve Brown

19 August 2019


The next meeting:

Rouran Zang

30 September 2019