Guide to Cultural Heritage
WHY CULTURAL HERITAGE MATTERS:
Culture and heritage are fundamental to the identity of many communities. We know from the not so distant history of large-scale industrial development that ineffective management of cultural and heritage concerns can lead to conflict and that damage to heritage sites is likely to cause strong feelings, with social, political and legal opposition an all too common result. Using good practices early is particularly important and is critical if you need community permission to access land for development. Starting well will have a big influence the quality of your long-term relationships, the effectiveness of your broader community engagement efforts and the sustainability and legacy of operations.
WHAT TO DO:
HOW TO DO IT:
|Understand the legal and other requirements related to cultural heritage
The following groups are good places to start:
- Ministries of archaeology, culture, or similar national or heritage institutions;
- National and local museums, cultural institutes, and universities;
- Local communities and religious groups for whom the cultural heritage is traditionally sacred;
- Historical or traditional users and owners of cultural heritage.
Inside your company the person responsible for maintaining the exploration licenses could be able to provide a list of permit conditions.
|Identify culturally significant places inside the project footprint so they can be protected, moved or compensated for
- Since cultural heritage is not always documented, consultation with local people is essential for identifying it, understanding its significance, assessing potential impacts, and exploring mitigation options;
- Local staff are usually an easily available source of information;
- Reduce the likelihood of inadvertently damaging something important by including locations on all project plans and ensuring information is shared with all consultants and contractors. Add another level of protection by barricading and signposting if possible;
- Have a procedure for handling Chance Finds before starting ground disturbing work required during the assessment phase (see below for some ideas).
|Allow ongoing community connection to and use of culturally significant places that are protected within the project footprint
- Offer continued access to local communities, subject to legitimate health, safety and security concerns;
- Where health, safety, or security is a consideration, alternatives to open access need to be identified through community consultation. Possibilities could include alternative access routes, specifying dates and times when access will be provided, providing health and safety equipment and training for specified users of the site, or other measures that balance access with health, safety or security measures;
- Document the access agreements so that people coming onto the project later know what the rules are.
WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO:
Chance Finds Procedure: This will set out what needs to be done when cultural heritage objects are unexpectedly uncovered during field-based activities. In particular the procedure needs to specify steps to be taken if human remains are found, as these may be of high cultural sensitivity and need to be treated with particular care. Steps typically include:
- Immediately stopping work in the vicinity of the find;
- Notification of the accountable site manager;
- Notification of the police if human remains have been found;
- Notification of cultural heritage authorities if required;
- Use of local community members and heritage experts to assess the significance, and report it if required by law;
- Determining the right way to manage the find in consultation with community groups and interested parties; and
- Resumption of work if permitted and agreed.
Develop a Cultural Heritage Management Plan: The content of your plan will depend on the existence of heritage values in the area. It may be two or two hundred pages long depending on the level of cultural heritage complexity. In some areas and jurisdictions legislated or formal guidelines may shape the content. Including a cultural heritage assessment in the ESIA scope will reduce contract administration and will help to avoid duplication, while using a local expert for the heritage work demonstrates respect for local knowledge.