A region protecting “its” heritage – World Heritage as a bottom-up project

The Mining Cultural Landscape Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří UNESCO World Heritage project is in many respects a project of the region – on the Saxon and the Czech sides in equal measure.

To a large extent, the concept and development of the World Heritage nomination came from citizens’ initiatives in the region on both the Saxon and the Czech sides. These initiatives formed development associations on both sides of the border in the firm belief that the important mining cultural heritage in the region deserves to be permanently preserved and communicated worldwide. The communities and later the administrative districts or local authorities in the Saxon and the Bohemian Erzgebirge were persuaded to support the idea. They took over the organisation of the project in 2010 with the Montanregion Krušné hory – Erzgebirge o.p.s (non-profit company) on the Czech side and in 2011 with the Welterbekonvent Erzgebirge (organising institution) on the Saxon side.

To select and determine the nominated component parts, an exemplary process was followed, based on transparency, communication and the involvement of the relevant local stakeholders. Within the framework of 27 implementation studies, conducted by the World Heritage project group at the IWTG at Freiberg University of Mining and Technology in close collaboration with the communities, expert authorities, object owners, associations, companies and citizens concerned, a broad-based consensus was reached in the region on the selection and nomination of all the component parts of the serial property.

In addition to selecting the component parts, this process made it possible to balance the protection and preservation of this developing cultural landscape with the necessary economic and infrastructure plans at an early stage. This participatory process has also had a lasting influence on awareness of UNESCO World Heritage in the region.