Community Involvement in the Preservation of World Heritage Sites: The Case of the Ukrainian Carpathian Wooden Churches



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Encouraging the participation of the local population in the preservation of World Heritage Sites is one of the mission?s of UNESCO?s World Heritage Centre. Community involvement is also critical in the planning process. This dissertation argues that community involvement should be part of the World Heritage List nomination process and long-term preservation of the sites and that mechanisms should be in place to ensure this as part of the nomination file.

To support this argument, literature on community involvement and World Heritage Sites is reviewed. Part of this dissertation is to provide a framework for community involvement at World Heritage Sites. In order to accomplish this, the known potential socio-economic benefits of World Heritage designation are also reviewed. This provides a framework whereby communities can be consulted and involved in activities at World Heritage Sites with the goal of preservation of the site and achieving additional socio-economic benefits.

This framework was used to explore the attitudes of eight Western Ukrainian communities on the use of their wooden churches that are nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage List to improve their socio-economic conditions as well as preserve the churches. Previous studies focused mostly on the effects of World Heritage Site designation to produce social and economic benefits. This dissertation takes a different approach by involving the community at the nomination stage to determine which of these benefits they support and develop a plan of action and guidelines focused on achieving the desired changes.

A community survey was developed under the supervision of this dissertation committee and Dr. Bevz at the Department of Restoration and Reconstruction of Architectural Complexes at Lviv Polytechnic National University as part of a J. William Fulbright grant to Ukraine. The survey responses were analyzed using both summary and statistical analysis to develop guidelines and a plan of action to be implemented by Lviv Polytechnic.

This dissertation provides much needed research into community involvement at World Heritage Sites for their preservation and to achieve socio-economic benefits for the surrounding communities. The framework laid out in this dissertation has implications not only for Western Ukraine, but cultural heritage sites throughout the world.