Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Armenian and Palestinian sites share 2011 cultural landscape prize

The Historical and Cultural Museum-Reservation of Garni (Armenia) and the Palestinian cultural landscape of Battir are the winners of this year’s Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes (UNESCO-Greece). The prize will be awarded at a ceremony to be held at UNESCO Headquarters on 24 May.

“In rewarding the management of Garni and Battir, UNESCO wishes to raise awareness of these sites’ beauty and importance, of their tangible and symbolic values, so as to help avert threats to their continued preservation,” said the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova, endorsing the recommendation of an international jury.
The laureates will receive $US 15,000 each.
The Museum-Reservation of Garni covers a total area of 5.1 hectares in and around Garni Village, some 28 km East of Yerevan in the volcanic Armenia plateau of the Caucasus Mountains. It features a series of historical and architectural vestiges and buildings from the Bronze Age (Cyclopean walls), to Hellenic times (temples, bath-house), as well as early Christian elements.
The site has been recognized for measures taken to preserve its cultural vestiges, and the emphasis placed on efforts to interpret and open the site for national and international visitors. The jury also praised the integration of this work into the lives of local communities, encouraging social and economic development. Part of the site was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as The Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley in 2000.
The Battir Cultural Landscape (Battir Village and its surroundings, occupied Palestinian territory) testifies to 4,000 years of the terraced cultivation of vines and olives. Home to 1,150 people, of whom 350 live in the village of Husan, the landscape also features walled terraces, irrigation canals, watchtowers and other dry stone edifices. The site is recognized for its great aesthetic and symbolic value. The jury particularly emphasized action undertaken to stabilize the traditional agricultural use of the landscape in cooperation with local farmers and the adoption of protection legislation and a sound management plan.
Battir is part of a larger area (“Land of Olives and Vines”), which is included in the “Inventory of cultural and natural heritage sites of potential outstanding universal value in Palestine”, issued by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities with a view to future nomination for World Heritage listing.
The jury of the Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes also decided to award a Special Mention to the 120 kilometre-long Wadi Hanifah (Saudi Arabia) landscape of which Riyadh is the main city. Part of the site was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah in 2010.
Awarded every two years, the Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes (UNESCO-Greece) rewards outstanding examples of action to safeguard and enhance the world's major cultural landscapes. It bears the name of the late Melina Mercouri, a precursor of integrated conservation and sustainable development, renowned actress and Minister of Culture of Greece.

Announcement to Battir community

25 May 2011, Battir
Announcement to Battir community:

in the framework of the project Management and Conservation of Natural and Cultural Resources of the Bethlehem Governatorate: Battir Landscape Ecomuseum
(BET Ch 032 09)

The staff of the Battir Landscape Ecomuseum office invites the inhabitants of Battir to the presentation of the training program for ecomuseum guides and facilitators that will be held in Battir Landscape ecomuseum Office in Battir, Dar el Bader, on Sunday 5th June at 3 pm.

The training program for ecomuseum guides and facilitators is implemented in the framework of the project for the realization of an Ecomuseum of Landscape in Battir, currently in progress under the umbrella of the PSMP program of the Italian cooperation and with the UNESCO Ramallah Office scientific supervision.

Direct beneficiaries of the training program will be 6 to 8 Battir citizens, gender balanced, between the age of 20 and 40 years, preferably unemployed or partially employed. People with good knowledge of the local natural environment and of traditional cultural knowledge and practices and with good communication skills will be favored in the selection process.

The training will start at the end of June and will be developed along 6 months, for a total of 60 days of training, articulated in different thematic units focused on different aspects of natural and cultural landscape safeguarding and valorization through initiatives of sustainable tourism.

The different training units will be composed of a minimum of 4 to a maximum of 14 days, for a minimum of 4 to a maximum of 6 hours per day. Each unit will be conducted in Battir by different Palestinian and International experts and will consist of theoretic as well as workshop sessions.

The main topics covered by the main training units are:
- Team and cooperative learning, participatory and facilitation methods
- Natural environment protection and education
- Knowing and safeguarding the natural heritage of Battir territory: local flora and fauna
- Valorizing local natural and cultural heritage through eco-cultural sustainable tourism initiatives and best practices
- Documenting and valorizing intangible and tangible cultural landscape heritage: approaches, methods and techniques
- Knowing and discovering Battir Archaeological heritage
- Welcoming, accommodating and assisting the visitors of the Ecomuseum

The selection of the 6 to 8 beneficiaries of the training program for ecomuseum guides and facilitators will follow the steps listed below:
1. Presentation of the training and pre-registration of the interested citizens (5 June)
2. Online registration of candidates (6-13 June)
3. Pre-selection of candidates (14-17 June)
4. Final selection: interviews (18 and 19 June)

For any further information you may require don’t hesitate to contact the Battir Landscape Ecomuseum project’s manager assistant Saja Shami and the facilitator Mohammad Obaidallah, calling or visiting us in our office in Dar el Bader, Battir main Road, every day except Friday from 11 am to 3 pm

Battir Landscape Ecomuseum Project Office
Dar el Bader, Battir village, main roadTel: 02 2763509 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Battir photo view

This view photos of the village of Batir

Displays the beauty of landscapes in Battir

Monday, May 9, 2011

the project outline

The Battir Landscape Ecomuseum is implemented in the framework of a  project titled Management and conservation of Natural and cultural Resources in Battir Landscape Ecomuseum, promoted by the Battir Village Council and funded by the Italian Government through the Ministry of Local Government (MoLG) within the Palestinian Municipalities Support Program (PMSP).
The project is co-funded in partnership with six institutions belonging to different  Italian Local Authorities: Lecce Province, Publiambiente, Empoli Council, Ipres, Felcos Umbria, Arpa Umbria and Federparchi.
The project is the result of around three years  of preliminary research and participated planning focused on Battir natural and cultural landscape. The research work that led to the final design of the project, promoted by UNESCO office Ramallah in partnership with the Battir village Council and with other Palestinian institutions such as MOTA and MoLG, was undertook by a multidisciplinary team of international and Palestinian expert and with the constant involvement of the local community. This set of researches and activities brought to the preliminary individuation of some relevant landscape elements to be safeguarded and valorised, as well as of the main problems, constrains and risks affecting the territory and the local community.
Why focusing on landscape?
Natural and cultural landscapes are the result of the combined work of man and nature, expressing the intimate link between people and their territory and encompassing tangible and intangible element, natural as well as cultural. As historical and cultural products of the ongoing long term relation of a territory and its inhabitants, cultural landscapes (in their natural and cultural traits) embody the biography, identity and memory of a given place, belonging to the present as well as to the past and future generations. They represent an important collective heritage, to be safeguarded and valorised.

In the Palestinian occupied Territories, the integrity and functionality of local natural and cultural landscapes have been under the long term pressure of Israeli occupation and are currently threatened by different factors, with very negative repercussion at the environmental, economic and socio-cultural levels. For this reason, it is very important to take actions to protect them from internal risks and problems (pollution, waste, uncontrolled urban expansion, exhaustion of resources) and from external  threats and constrains (effects of Israeli occupation, such as confiscation of land, implementation of security barriers, expansion of illegal settlements), developing specific programs and projects targeting its safeguarding and valorisation forpresent and future generations.

Why in Battir?
Rural cultural landscapes, such as the historical landscape of Battir, represent an important part of the cultural and ethnographic heritage of a community, both at the local and at the regional level. Due to the sustainability of the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of traditional agrarian practices and techniques - based on the use of the traditional landscape and of the environment as resources, and therefore having to guarantee their maintenance and reproduction – living rural landscapes present high potential for the maintenance of the environmental stability and for the sustainable development of a given territory.

In particular, the natural and cultural landscape of Battir presents many traits of outstanding relevance at the environmental, aesthetic and historical levels. The area bears a great value and potential for local sustainable development not only for its ecologic, historic and cultural significance, but also in respect of its broader territorial context and of the socio-anthropological and historical identity of the local population.

Why an ecomuseum?
The project for the realisation of an ecomuseum of landscape in Battir is the result of around three years of research and of activities implemented in the framework of an ongoing cooperation of a pool of international and Palestinian experts with the inhabitants and with the local decision makers. This set of researches and activities, focused on the natural and cultural landscape of Battir and on the tangible and intangible heritage attached to it, brought to the preliminary individuation of some relevant landscape elements to be safeguarded and valorised, as well as of the main problems, constrains and risks affecting the territory and the local community.

From the analysis and interpretation of the data and information collected during the researches and activities undertaken between 2006 and 2010 in Battir, emerged some guidelines for realising on the ground a set of best practices for the local sustainable development and for the protection and valorisation of the local landscape and heritage from internal and external threats. These guidelines are based on a holistic approach to the territory and to its resources and heritage, pointing to develop them in the framework of environmental, social and economic sustainability.

An ecomuseum, intended as a laboratory of sustainability and a platform for local development, offers a great potential for the organisation of these guidelines and best practices into an organic project that is not limited to the development of a tourist economy in Battir, but rather points to the integrated development of the territory in its different components, contributing to the active and dynamic rehabilitation of local resources and of local traditional practices and knowledge (such as traditional agriculture, landscape maintenance expertise, environmental knowledge) for the collective benefit and through a collective action. In its multifaceted and flexible nature shaped on the base of local resources and needs, an ecomusuem often arises and is created as a response to local problems and crisis.

In the context of the Palestinian occupied Territories the establishment of a landscape ecomseum represents an important opportunity for the implementation of a participated laboratory of sustainability that can contribute to reaffirm local identities and cultural diversities while stimulating local economy and networks. It can create the conditions of accessibility and enjoyment of the cultural and natural heritage in a place that don’t benefit of a significant tourist development. Promoting local development on the base of universally shared values (protection of natural and cultural diversity) it represents an effective opportunity for defending and protecting the landscape from internal and external threats and constrains, and in particular from Israeli occupation policies and plans.

Aims and expected results of the project
Main goal of the Battir Landscape Ecomuseum project is to ensure the effective protection, safeguarding and sustainable development of the natural and cultural landscape of Battir and to empower local community and institutions for the management and sustainable development of their territory.

The main concrete outputs expected from the implementation of the ecomuseum project are:
a) Establishment of the Landscape Eco-museum and development of local capacities for its sustainable management
b) Endorsement of the Battir Landscape Conservation and Management Plan
c) Realisation of a landscape research and interpretation centre, an archive of popular cultural heritage and knowledge and of eco-cultural tourist trails.

The main attractions of the ecomuseum of Battir will consist of:
- a network of eco-cultural trails
- A centre for landscape documentation and interpretation
- An archive of popular culture and knowledge
The eco-cultural itineraries of the Ecomuseum were discovered, understood and designed together with the inhabitants of Battir. The everyday paths are in fact defining element of a landscape, and can be considered as an extension and expansion of the familiar space of each of the inhabitants. The paths consent to the visitors to encounter a lived territory and its people, and to understand the history of the landscape together with the culture that shaped and shapes it.

The main aim of the Centre for landscape documentation and interpretation is to provide and make available for the inhabitants consistent and scientific territorial data and landscape analysis while becoming a pole of excellence for the study and management of cultural landscape not only in the oPt, but  internationally, via a network of contacts and partnerships with institutions working on these topics.

The main purpose of the Archive of Popular Culture and knowledge is to contribute to the functional preservation, valorisation and inter-generational transmission of local cultural heritage and traditional operational knowledge, specially attached to landscape history and traditional territorial management.

local sustainable development

Local sustainable development strategies are based on the safeguarding and valorisation of the elements of peculiarity and uniqueness of a given territory in its natural, social and cultural components. They are based on cooperative, pluralistic and participatory processes pointing to the qualitative valorisation of local resources (natural, social, cultural) for the collective benefit. Local sustainable development represents a concrete alternative to the developmental model and system promoted by the globalisation process, consenting to safeguard natural and cultural diversity for the collective benefit.

LOCAL refers to the framework of the development: rooted in a specific place (Battir), and in its specific resources – natural (the environment, the territory), cultural (the history, the oral heritage, the traditional practices, the knowledge) and social (the inhabitants) – local development is defined and designed departing from them, from their specific carrying capacity, needs and potentials.

At the community level, local development approaches are based on cooperative, pluralistic and participatory processes pointing to the qualitative valorisation of local resources (natural, social, cultural) for the collective benefit. Main purpose of local development processes is to put collective and public wellbeing at the centre of local governance and institutional processes. It points to develop individual freedom and sense of responsibility by increasing the capacity of the inhabitants in the understanding and managing their territory, resources and heritage intended as a shared resource. Local development therefore it is not a simple strategy for economic growth, but it implies a complex of social, political and cultural components and indicators that can not be realised by the market alone. 

SUSTAINABILITY means the capacity to endure, to sustain processes of change and development in a way that does not cause the degradation or exhaustion of the existing resources. Sustainable development is based on a pattern of resource use that aims to meet present human needs while preserving the natural and social environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for the future generations. Sustainability is therefore potential for long-term maintenance of well being. It entails the management of the natural and social environment as well as the patterns of human production/consumption.

Sustainability must be considered in its three main facets:
1.      Environmental sustainability: is the process of making sure current processes of interaction with the environment are realised with the idea of safeguarding the integrity of the natural environment and of the local ecosystems. An environmentally sustainable human activity only uses nature's resources in a way that does not deteriorate them and at a rate at which they can be replenished naturally.
2.      Social sustainability: social sustainability encompasses human and civil rights, labour rights, democratic governance, public access to information and participation. Socially sustainable communities are equitable, diverse, connected and democratic and provide a good quality of life to current and future generations. Social sustainability entails that future generations should have the same or greater access to social resources as the current generation and that there should be equal access to social resources within the current generation.
3.      Economic sustainability: economics interfaces with sustainability through the social and ecological consequences of economic activity. An economic system is sustainable only if accommodates the ecosystems and the social reality on which it depends. Sustainable economic systems and business practices, therefore, integrate ecological concerns with social and economic ones, and considers them a priority in rapport of short-term profit and unlimited growth.

Battir Landscape Ecomuseum Project

The village of Battir
Battir is a very nice old Palestinian village immersed in the beautiful environment of Wadi Makhrour valley, west of Bethlehem. The village’s natural and cultural landscape, shaped along centuries of relation between the local environment and the inhabitants of the place, presents many traits of outstanding value and beauty, and embeds the rich and fascinating history of the place, that along the centuries, since the pre-Canaanite era, hosted different people and cultures.  

Today this beautiful landscape is threatened by a variety of factors, both endogenous and exogenous. The most threatening external factors affecting the integrity of this living landscape are the Israeli policies and measures unilaterally imposed within the occupied Palestinian territory. Internal factors of risks consist i.e. of the abandonment of cultivated land, the lack of urban management tools, networks, and services, and pollution due to solid waste and waste water.

Over the past three years, with this inestimable wealth as a basis and in the firm belief that the safeguarding and the valorization of the great natural, artistic and historical heritage of our valley will become a driving force for the sustainable local development of Battir territory, we have worked, and will continue to do so, to create the “Battir Landscape Ecomuseum”.

What is an “Ecomuseum”?
Ecomuseums originated in France, the concept being developed by George Henri Riviere and Hugues de Varine and, who coined the term ‘ecomusée’ in 1971.

The word ecomsuem is made up of two terms: eco and museum...

Why  “Eco”?
The prefix “ECO” comes from the word oykos, that in ancient Greek means “house/living place”.  It is used as prefix in some composed words (e.g. ecology, economy, ecosystem) that refer to the dimension of the environment (natural and socio-cultural) where people live.
In the word ECO-museum the prefix ECO is used to indicate a type of museum that focuses on the environment in its different components – natural, social and cultural. This includes the relationship between human beings and the natural environment. It also has to do with all the help that mankind has been given by Nature to enable us all to survive. The prefix ECO stresses therefore the intimate link that connects each ecomuseum to the natural, cultural and historical environment in which is established and implemented. This fact means that each ecomuseum is unique. Each ecomuseum is the mirror of a specific “living place” and of its people.

Why “Museum”?
For what concerns the word museum, as you know, a museum is a building that contains all sorts of historical and fascinating objects and exhibits. It is also a good place for finding out about things such as art, science, history....
In the building hosting a museum experts of different fields (archaeology, biology, art, history etc.) select objects and information  and after that set up a display for the visitors to come. 

Also ecomuseums are a good place to discover and explore things, but in a different way in respect of a museum. An ecomsueum  in fact doesn’t have a roof—just the sky above it.
An ecomsuem is not a building, but an open-air museum where the local culture and heritage are not concentred in a place and simply displayed, but are lived and experienced in first place by the inhabitants of the place where an ecomsueum exists. The ecomuseum in fact a way of making the local community more aware of its history and of its future
Therefore, an ecomseum IS NOT simply A MUSEUM, because: it is not limited to a building; it is not a display; it is not a collection of objects; it is not defined and decided by experts alone; it is not imposed and controlled by external decision makers; it is not a model to replicate; it is not a static institution.
So, if an ecomsuem is not a museum , what is it?
An ecomuseum is a dynamic way in which a community preserves, interprets, and manages its heritage for a sustainable local development. An ecomuseum is based on a community agreement. An ecomuseum grows from below, rather than being imposed from above: it begins with people, not with objects. It arises in response to the needs and wishes of people living and working in the area and it directly involves them at every stage. Its philosophy and practice are based on the intimate relationship between local people and their heritage.

The main objective of an ecomuseum is not simply to put up a display addressed to passive visitors, but to involve actively the local public in a collective project of valorisation of the local heritage, intended as a diffused shared resource for the production of social capital and an engine for local sustainable development.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

To connect with battir landscape ecomuseum office

To connect with battir landscape ecomuseum office

Visit the office on Saturdays every week from one o'clock to  three o'clock in the afternoon
Or write us at the following lines of communication:

Tel: 2763509
Facebook page:

Project blog in Arabic:

Project blog in English: