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Regional guidelines for the protection of heritage sites in the O.E.C.S. imperative

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Contact: Lucius Doxerie


Wednesday,  July 8, 2009 –  The Regional Heritage Association (RHA) Secretariat met on July 6th in Saint Lucia (The Head Office) to write a draft proposal for “Regional Guidelines for the Protection of Heritage Sites in the O.E.C.S Region”. These guidelines will be submitted to the full executive for further discussion before moving on to the next stage.


Mr. Paul Lewis, Secretary, met with the president, archaeologist Mr. Milton Eric Branford, to review reports on endangered heritage sites in the region, and other issues including unethical research, exportation of artifacts and excavation work carried out without the permission of the mandated heritage association.


The RHA has been informed at an O.E.C.S regional workshop on impacts of biodiversity from the tourism sector that the Association can make a request to the Heads of Government for an opportunity to update them on the need to unify legislation of the constituent island states for the greater protection of the national and cultural heritage of the region. Mr. Lewis noted that too often developers tend to disregard the need to protect our local heritage, and so it is critical that local heritage groups come together to defend and promote our cultural patrimony in collaboration with regional governments.


Mr. Milton Eric Branford, president of the RHA, noted a number of steps that should be undertaken by cultural products, and issues affecting the implementation of a protection regime. Branford noted that planning and development decisions can unwittingly affect the values of indigenous heritage places. This is sometimes the case when those making the decisions perceive heritage issues as complex and find them difficult to discuss with stake holders and people in the communities. The RHA president stressed the point that consultation and negotiation with traditional owners and cultural stakeholders in the communities, including non-traditional owners, are the best means of addressing heritage issues. It was agreed that government planners and developers need to be involved at the earliest stages of infrastructural development.


Of critical importance, according to Branford and Lewis, is the need to maintain heritage values and historic places. This is a vital part of the community’s sense of place, cultural identity and well-being. It is particularly true too for archaeological sites, historical buildings and monuments, whose heritage creates and maintains links between ancestors, people and the land.


“Our development agenda must be sufficient sensitive to the survival and protection of our heritage, said Mr. Lewis.


“We need to introduce a development protocol which would provide a practical guide for land developers, land users managers of Cultural Heritage, heritage professionals and many others who may have an impact on Heritage Sites.”


Branford emphasized  the identification, protection and promotion of our heritage and corresponding values, would, and must play an important role in our drive towards poverty alleviation in the region.

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