By Cameron Chai
The HISTCAPE project in Europe is aiming for sustainable development of threatened towns and villages that are under the risk of disappearing.
A total of 11 institutions from 11 countries in Europe along with Tecnalia are taking part in the European Inter-regional Co-operation project. The HISTCAPE project focuses on safeguarding the historical quarters, retaining the social cohesion and improving the cultural and social heritage.
The Ministry of the Environment of Slovenia, the regional governments of Rhineland-Palatinate, the Northern Region of Portugal, Vidzeme, Castilla y León, and the development agencies of the regions of West Macedonia, Saaremaa and Styria; the European Association of Historic Towns and Regions, and the municipal district of Alytus are taking part in the project.
More than 80% of Europe is rural and these contain around 4,500 villages and towns with a population below 20,000. Large urban areas are more populated. The rural landscapes and territories that developed over the years were once a focal point of social and economical activity, but they are now under threat. Many villages and towns are historic in nature and have a unique identity.
HISTCAPE will provide strategic recommendations for safe-guarding the cultural heritage of rural areas having small populations. New tools and policies towards sustainable management, protection and development of small historical centres are to be created. This will help reduce the decline and deterioration of these areas.
Tecnalia will be applying and testing pilot trials of good practices in six European regions. The methodology for application and testing will be specified. A general framework will be specified based on the outcome, which can be used for different regions.
The partners in the HISTCAPE project will be publishing the results as a guide for preserving the rural heritage values.