The Carpathians from a Cultural Heritage Point of View

Cultural heritage means a legacy of cultural value, or in other words, the moral, intellectual, and artistic goods, values and perspectives passed on from one generation to another. Cultural heritage refers to both tangible and intangible forms of culture.

The tangible forms of cultural heritage are the material results of human activities such as architecture, land alterations, and tools produced by past cultures and civilizations. The intangible forms of the cultural heritage include the practices, folklore, expressions, traditional knowledge, skills, as well as the instruments, artifacts and cultural spaces associated there within.

Intangible cultural heritage, passed on from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity. Among traditional knowledge, practices of agriculture, forestry, fishing, popular medicine, common law, cultural values, and proverbs, many others can be included.

Both tangible and intangible cultural heritage is threatened by consumerism and globalization. Tangible forms of heritage are being affected by pollution, industrial or demographic expansion and lack of interest. Such effects generally only become visible over a long period of time, and up to a certain point in time it is even possible to stop the gradual degradation and restore the heritage.

In the case of intangible forms, losses are often unrecoverable. Without the passing on or documentation of a traditional way of tilling the soil, a specific way of building a wooden house, or even weaving a carpet the cultural knowledge will disappear forever if they cannot be reproduced due to lack of people who are familiar with the practices.

Cultural Heritage in the Carpathians

The Carpathian Mountain region represents dynamic space of life (natural, cultural, political, and socio-economic), important in terms of cultural and natural heritage. Although each ethnographic region is unique, rural communities in the Carpathian Mountains have generally preserved ancient traditions, customs, and techniques that are efficient and effective up to the present day.

The relatively homogeneous character of the natural conditions and the lengthy historical periods during which the Carpathian area had a relatively identical administration encouraged the interaction and blending of the various populations. For native inhabitants, the Carpathian curve acted as an avenue for the circulation of goods, peoples and ideas.

Recording, studying, promoting and respecting the cultural wealth present in the Carpathians and using the experiences of our ancestors, we may discover and learn how to apply learned knowledge to the challenges we face for the future. That is why in some regions of the Carpathian countries there have been serious discussions about enlarging the Carpathian Heritage Inventory.

The Threats

The Carpathian region, with its impressive ecological and economic potential, is undergoing rapid environmental, social, and political changes. The increasing technological development of the past few decades has begun to rapidly invade the isolated world of mountain villages. These technological advances have brought with it changes in the way of life of the native households. These changes are leading to a loss of traditional knowledge and lifestyle, of customs and values that were preserved through centuries.

The Challenges

The challenges that the Carpathian countries and communities now face are similar to those present in countries and communities all over the world: namely, to develop intelligent, credible and sustainable management of biodiversity and of the ecosystems on which the health, lifestyle and economic prosperity of each community depends.

It is important to preserve the potential and uniqueness of a region while simultaneously allowing and encouraging it to develop sustainably. For this, well-adapted and responsible actions are necessary, actions that take into consideration the global, regional and trans-border contexts and connections, as well as the specific environment of the Carpathians and the unique lifestyle of the inhabitants of these mountainous areas.

PDF: Carpathian_Heritage_Inventory_proposal_2011 Cultural Heritage 0806-carpathian-report-recommendation

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