Protecting Heritage Places

10 steps to help protect the natural and cultural significance of places
Australian Heritage Commission, 2000

Introduction (continued)

Principles for heritage conservation

These are the basic principles for natural and cultural heritage conservation.

  • Conservation is based on respecting all heritage values of the place without unwarranted emphasis on any one aspect at the expense of others.
  • Conservation of a place should include provision for its security, maintenance and future.
  • Conservation should involve the least possible physical intervention: do as much as necessary and as little as possible.
  • Conservation of a place should make use of all disciplines and experience that can contribute to the study and safeguarding of a place.
  • Conservation requires accurate recording about decisions and changes to the place.
  • Where threats or potential threats of serious or irreversible damage exist, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent degradation (the precautionary principle).

In guidelines currently being developed for Indigenous heritage, three additional principles apply to the conservation of Indigenous heritage places:

  • Indigenous people are the primary sources of information about the significance of their places.
  • Culturally sensitive information about indigenous heritage areas and objects should be protected from unnecessary disclosure.
  • Indigenous traditional owners and custodians have rights and obligations toward their cultural heritage places which must be recognised in their full involvement in the management of their cultural heritage.