Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 13.COM 10.B.10

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland have nominated Art of dry stone walling, knowledge and techniques (No. 01393) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The art of dry stone walling concerns the knowhow related to making stone constructions by stacking stones upon each other, without using any other materials except sometimes dry soil. Dry stone structures are spread across most rural areas – mainly in steep terrains – both inside and outside inhabited spaces, though they are not unknown in urban areas. The stability of the structures is ensured through the careful selection and placement of the stones, and dry-stone structures have shaped numerous, diverse landscapes, forming various modes of dwelling, farming and husbandry. Such structures testify to the methods and practices used by people from prehistory to today to organize their living and working space by optimizing local natural and human resources. They play a vital role in preventing landslides, floods and avalanches, and in combating erosion and desertification of the land, enhancing biodiversity and creating adequate microclimatic conditions for agriculture. The bearers and practitioners include the rural communities where the element is deeply rooted, as well as professionals in the construction business. Dry stone structures are always made in perfect harmony with the environment and the technique exemplifies a harmonious relationship between human beings and nature. The practice is passed down primarily through practical application adapted to the particular conditions of each place.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   Dry stone building is a living tradition, which has become increasingly well-developed for the sake of the sustainable management of cultural heritage, agricultural land, human dwellings and their environment. Among its practitioners, related knowledge and skills are transmitted through the joint work of skilled masters and apprentices, workshops, vocational training, courses, and many other means. The practice involves the close cooperation of community members, reinforcing social cohesion and collaboration within families and neighbours. As a widespread, distinctive feature of the cultural landscape, the element provides all its practitioners with a strong sense of identity.

R.2:   The art of dry stone merges a widespread technique with respect for local conditions and the exclusive use of local building materials. Promoting the shared nature of traditional know-how, the practice stems from the need to clear land for cultivation purposes and to use stones to build highly functional structures. These aspects illustrate the fundamental role of intangible cultural heritage in the creation and maintenance of the living environment. The wide distribution of the practice and high level of dry stone monument protection will significantly contribute to the promotion of intangible cultural heritage in general. Existing synergies between communities and associated organizations will be developed, highlighting the links and shared values of the practitioners.

R.3:   While the state authorities in all the submitting States have focused primarily on the protection of existing dry stone monuments and sites, the communities of practitioners and professional organizations have directed their attention to the effective transmission and promotion of the element. State protection and international recognition raise the profile of this practice and promote respect for and awareness of its value. The proposed safeguarding plan was prepared thanks to the joint efforts of all the stakeholders, with communities and their associations initiating and leading the process. One of the main safeguarding objectives is the establishment of permanent, standardized training systems with adequate certification. The plan is centered on international collaboration, interdisciplinary research and the sharing of good safeguarding practices.

R.4:   The safeguarding plan and entire nomination file are the result of intensive discussions among the communities and relevant organizations. At the fifteenth International Congress of the International Scientific Society for Interdisciplinary Studies on Dry Stone, held in Greece in 2016, the decision to prepare a multinational nomination was taken and the main platform for exchanging views and opinions concerning the presentation of the element was formed. A wide range of consent letters was obtained from different segments of the community of practitioners and other relevant stakeholders, and each country has described these representatives and explained their roles.

R.5:   The art of dry stone walling and related knowledge and techniques is inscribed on the national, regional or local inventories in all eight nominating countries, according to the nature of their state administration and regional differences. The mode of maintaining and updating these inventories is described and the required documentation demonstrating proper inventorying in line with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention in all countries has been duly submitted.

  1. Inscribes Art of dry stone walling, knowledge and techniques on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Welcomes the initiative of the States Parties to present a widely practised technique that fully respects local conditions and highlights the common cultural meanings and functions of the element in all submitting States and commends the States Parties for submitting an exemplary file, prepared with the utmost care, which testifies to the spirit of the Convention in terms of international cooperation;
  3. Further commends the States Parties for acknowledging the possible negative impacts of the inscription of the element and for proposing appropriate safeguarding measures to prevent such risks.