Monday, May 9, 2011

the project outline

The Battir Landscape Ecomuseum is implemented in the framework of a  project titled Management and conservation of Natural and cultural Resources in Battir Landscape Ecomuseum, promoted by the Battir Village Council and funded by the Italian Government through the Ministry of Local Government (MoLG) within the Palestinian Municipalities Support Program (PMSP).
The project is co-funded in partnership with six institutions belonging to different  Italian Local Authorities: Lecce Province, Publiambiente, Empoli Council, Ipres, Felcos Umbria, Arpa Umbria and Federparchi.
The project is the result of around three years  of preliminary research and participated planning focused on Battir natural and cultural landscape. The research work that led to the final design of the project, promoted by UNESCO office Ramallah in partnership with the Battir village Council and with other Palestinian institutions such as MOTA and MoLG, was undertook by a multidisciplinary team of international and Palestinian expert and with the constant involvement of the local community. This set of researches and activities brought to the preliminary individuation of some relevant landscape elements to be safeguarded and valorised, as well as of the main problems, constrains and risks affecting the territory and the local community.
Why focusing on landscape?
Natural and cultural landscapes are the result of the combined work of man and nature, expressing the intimate link between people and their territory and encompassing tangible and intangible element, natural as well as cultural. As historical and cultural products of the ongoing long term relation of a territory and its inhabitants, cultural landscapes (in their natural and cultural traits) embody the biography, identity and memory of a given place, belonging to the present as well as to the past and future generations. They represent an important collective heritage, to be safeguarded and valorised.

In the Palestinian occupied Territories, the integrity and functionality of local natural and cultural landscapes have been under the long term pressure of Israeli occupation and are currently threatened by different factors, with very negative repercussion at the environmental, economic and socio-cultural levels. For this reason, it is very important to take actions to protect them from internal risks and problems (pollution, waste, uncontrolled urban expansion, exhaustion of resources) and from external  threats and constrains (effects of Israeli occupation, such as confiscation of land, implementation of security barriers, expansion of illegal settlements), developing specific programs and projects targeting its safeguarding and valorisation forpresent and future generations.

Why in Battir?
Rural cultural landscapes, such as the historical landscape of Battir, represent an important part of the cultural and ethnographic heritage of a community, both at the local and at the regional level. Due to the sustainability of the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of traditional agrarian practices and techniques - based on the use of the traditional landscape and of the environment as resources, and therefore having to guarantee their maintenance and reproduction – living rural landscapes present high potential for the maintenance of the environmental stability and for the sustainable development of a given territory.

In particular, the natural and cultural landscape of Battir presents many traits of outstanding relevance at the environmental, aesthetic and historical levels. The area bears a great value and potential for local sustainable development not only for its ecologic, historic and cultural significance, but also in respect of its broader territorial context and of the socio-anthropological and historical identity of the local population.

Why an ecomuseum?
The project for the realisation of an ecomuseum of landscape in Battir is the result of around three years of research and of activities implemented in the framework of an ongoing cooperation of a pool of international and Palestinian experts with the inhabitants and with the local decision makers. This set of researches and activities, focused on the natural and cultural landscape of Battir and on the tangible and intangible heritage attached to it, brought to the preliminary individuation of some relevant landscape elements to be safeguarded and valorised, as well as of the main problems, constrains and risks affecting the territory and the local community.

From the analysis and interpretation of the data and information collected during the researches and activities undertaken between 2006 and 2010 in Battir, emerged some guidelines for realising on the ground a set of best practices for the local sustainable development and for the protection and valorisation of the local landscape and heritage from internal and external threats. These guidelines are based on a holistic approach to the territory and to its resources and heritage, pointing to develop them in the framework of environmental, social and economic sustainability.

An ecomuseum, intended as a laboratory of sustainability and a platform for local development, offers a great potential for the organisation of these guidelines and best practices into an organic project that is not limited to the development of a tourist economy in Battir, but rather points to the integrated development of the territory in its different components, contributing to the active and dynamic rehabilitation of local resources and of local traditional practices and knowledge (such as traditional agriculture, landscape maintenance expertise, environmental knowledge) for the collective benefit and through a collective action. In its multifaceted and flexible nature shaped on the base of local resources and needs, an ecomusuem often arises and is created as a response to local problems and crisis.

In the context of the Palestinian occupied Territories the establishment of a landscape ecomseum represents an important opportunity for the implementation of a participated laboratory of sustainability that can contribute to reaffirm local identities and cultural diversities while stimulating local economy and networks. It can create the conditions of accessibility and enjoyment of the cultural and natural heritage in a place that don’t benefit of a significant tourist development. Promoting local development on the base of universally shared values (protection of natural and cultural diversity) it represents an effective opportunity for defending and protecting the landscape from internal and external threats and constrains, and in particular from Israeli occupation policies and plans.

Aims and expected results of the project
Main goal of the Battir Landscape Ecomuseum project is to ensure the effective protection, safeguarding and sustainable development of the natural and cultural landscape of Battir and to empower local community and institutions for the management and sustainable development of their territory.

The main concrete outputs expected from the implementation of the ecomuseum project are:
a) Establishment of the Landscape Eco-museum and development of local capacities for its sustainable management
b) Endorsement of the Battir Landscape Conservation and Management Plan
c) Realisation of a landscape research and interpretation centre, an archive of popular cultural heritage and knowledge and of eco-cultural tourist trails.

The main attractions of the ecomuseum of Battir will consist of:
- a network of eco-cultural trails
- A centre for landscape documentation and interpretation
- An archive of popular culture and knowledge
The eco-cultural itineraries of the Ecomuseum were discovered, understood and designed together with the inhabitants of Battir. The everyday paths are in fact defining element of a landscape, and can be considered as an extension and expansion of the familiar space of each of the inhabitants. The paths consent to the visitors to encounter a lived territory and its people, and to understand the history of the landscape together with the culture that shaped and shapes it.

The main aim of the Centre for landscape documentation and interpretation is to provide and make available for the inhabitants consistent and scientific territorial data and landscape analysis while becoming a pole of excellence for the study and management of cultural landscape not only in the oPt, but  internationally, via a network of contacts and partnerships with institutions working on these topics.

The main purpose of the Archive of Popular Culture and knowledge is to contribute to the functional preservation, valorisation and inter-generational transmission of local cultural heritage and traditional operational knowledge, specially attached to landscape history and traditional territorial management.

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