At the panel session for management of cultural sites for cultural landscape sustenance in Thimphu yesterday, management plans for three identified cultural landscape were presented.

Management plans for six cultural landscapes: Buli, Ramtoe, Ura, Nabji, Gangtey, and Rinchengang were discussed before a plan was developed.

However, these identified sites are not confirmed as culutral landscape heritage.

Senior architect with Department of Culture, Yeshi Samdrup, said that the crucial part of the management plan is the assessment of the values of the site.

He added that through interviews, assessments, and history of the site, value and worthiness of the site is recognised. “We also carry out a comparative analysis, why the village should be protected or holds more value than others. These will be analysed and will define the value.”

The management plan will also include value of the site, incentives, rules and regulations for developmental activities of the identified site.

Yeshi Samdrup said that cultural landscape is defined as an area with human intervention holding tangible or intangible heritage.

He added that if people understand the importance of cultural landscapes, individuals would be more aware and cautious of the developmental activities taking place in the country. “Through this, we get to protect the site and also influence the planning process.”

The importance and need to sustain cultural landscapes was felt necessary while drafting of the Cultural Heritage Bill began in 2012.

Department of Culture stated that the Bill was to protect not only heritage buildings, but also cultural sites including rural settlements with its surrounding settings. “The present juncture we are in, where the changes to the landscape is paramount, there is utmost need to manage the change.”

In 2014, a competition to provide management plan for Shari village was conducted to preserve and benefit from the cultural landscape. A workshop for cultural landscape and sustaining its significance was conducted the following year. In 2016, workshop to develop management plan for two sites in Paro, which increased to six this year, was conducted.

Yeshi Samdrup said that the idea of cultural landscape is new to the officials and working on the management plan would help prepare before the Bill is enacted.

Director General of National Library and Archives of Bhutan, Dorji Norbu, said that the officials worked on the management plan of the sites. “The approach they have taken in preparation of the plan was very consultative and this helped them build capacity in management of cultural sites, which is a new approach in the office.”

Of the six management plans, plans for Buli, Ramtoe, and Ura were presented yesterday. The rest will be presented today at the panel session.

Phurpa Lhamo