Methodology for inventorying intangible cultural heritage in biosphere reserves: the experience of Montseny

Selected in 2013 on the Best safeguarding practices

Country(ies): Spain



L’exploitation du liège entraîne des connaissances environnementales et techniques

Initiated by the UNESCO Centre in Catalonia, a non-governmental organization, the project focuses on the identification of intangible cultural heritage in a biosphere reserve and the drawing up of inventories. The project was undertaken in an area covering the Montseny Biosphere Reserve and National Park in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, in cooperation with local stakeholders and institutions working in the fields of ethnology and traditional and popular Catalan culture. Its main objectives and outcomes were threefold: to design a methodology for preparing inventories; to draw up an inventory; and to prepare a document on the contributions of intangible cultural heritage to sustainable development. Through its participation plan and fieldwork, the project has also encouraged the involvement of the local population in identifying its intangible cultural heritage. The methodology developed for this project could be reproduced at the regional and international levels, and is suitable for developing countries. The observations on the contributions of intangible cultural heritage to sustainable development could also be useful for countries that have a rich natural and intangible heritage and are seeking ways to improve the conditions of their populations, without jeopardizing the opportunities for future generations.


Decision 8.COM 7.b.2

The Committee (…) decides that, from the information provided in the proposal, [this Programme] responds as follows to the criteria for selection in Paragraph 7 of the Operational Directives:

  • P.1: The programme aimed to provide methodological guidance for inventorying the intangible cultural heritage present in the biosphere reserve of Montseny, through documentation and field research conducted in collaboration among local residents, researchers and institutions and resulting in an inventory;
  • P.2: The programme is a national and sub-national activity, although its experience could very well serve as a basis for regional and international cooperation, in particular in collaboration with UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme;
  • P.3: The programme reflects the Convention’s attention to inventorying as an essential measure for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, promoting respect of the community’s heritage and focussing on the importance of this heritage as a guarantee of sustainable development;
  • P.4: The programme’s main results include a methodology of inventorying intangible cultural heritage in biosphere reserves and an inventory of intangible cultural heritage of Montseny, both accompanied by awareness raising and an online resource;
  • P.5: The programme has been implemented with the participation of local communities and institutions, and voluminous evidence of their free, prior and informed consent is provided;
  • P.6: The programme may serve as a model of a methodology for inventorying the intangible cultural heritage in biosphere reserves, nature parks and reserves, which could potentially be diffused in collaboration with UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme;
  • P.7: The willingness of the State Party and the implementing body to cooperate in the dissemination of the programme is demonstrated; the commitment of the community itself is not deemed necessary by the State Party;
  • P.8: The Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment evaluated the programme’s final results, even if concrete information on the project’s impacts on the viability of intangible cultural heritage is not provided; independent assessment should be given more weight in the future;
  • P.9: The programme could be applicable to the needs of developing countries by offering a solid base for methodological reflection for inventorying that could save them time and increase their efficiency;

Commends the State Party for having proposed a programme that sheds light on the fundamental role of intangible cultural heritage for sustainable development and environment in the context of biosphere and natural reserves;
Invites the State Party to better articulate what concrete steps have been taken in the inventory methodology and particularly on the role of the community in the elaboration of that methodology;
Encourages the State Party to further develop a mechanism of evaluation of the effectiveness of the methodology used;
Further encourages the State Party to cooperate with other States and communities wishing to develop similar programmes, especially in their biosphere and natural reserves.



© Diputació de Barcelona, 2013

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