In September 2017 Dr Emma Lee, a Postdoctoral research fellow from the CMS, attended the Capacity Building Workshop on Nature-Culture Linkages in Heritage Conservation in Asia Pacific, Sacred Landscapes, as part of the inaugural work of UNESCO Chair, Professor Masahito Yoshida, University of Tsukuba, Japan. In March 2017 a rigorous process of application rounds saw 100 submissions made and 16 global participants chosen from 15 countries to undertake a two week course revolving around the sacred landscapes and pilgrimage routes of Kii Mountains World Heritage Area, Japan.
In studying Japanese governance, heritage conservation and the benefits of nature-culture linkages to world heritage area management, the fieldtrip component incorporated behind-the-scenes visits to shrines, temples and pilgrimage routes. “The opportunity to receive lectures from sitting chairs and committee members of World Heritage Area bodies such as the IUCN and ICOMOS was a remarkable experience”, said Dr Lee. She further stated that the “opportunity to learn from fellow Indigenous and customary peoples during their participant presentations was of great benefit for the potential partnerships to further the World Heritage Area conservation agenda and incorporate globally successful governance strategies”.
The final day of the Workshop comprised a Symposium where a group presentation of participant reflections, insights and take-home lessons was presented during Japan’s Research Week 2017. Attending and presenting at the Symposium were the sitting chair of the World Heritage Committee, Dr Mechtild Rössler, and the Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programmes, Switzerland, as well as the recently retired UNESCO chief, Mr Thomas Schaaf. Dr Lee stated that the course exceeded her expectations when the opportunity to test Tasmanian Aboriginal research and Indigenous methodologies met with the highest regard and critical feedback. “Professor Yoshida was able to draw together the world’s current international conservation experts to hear our Kii Mountain learning experiences and nature-culture linkage new knowledges. This is not an everyday occurrence; however, my capacity has been strengthened to continue to promote locally driven research that contributes to our international reporting obligations, such as World Heritage”.
Dr Lee said that the opportunity to network in Japan has created further research interests for the Centre for Marine Socioecology. She said that there is a distinct lack of awareness of world heritage values in regards to waters and sea country. This has spurred Dr Lee to consider how the sharing of Indigenous and customary knowledges between the two countries may aid in increasing research spaces for marine world heritage values and promote Tasmania’s efforts for Indigenous inclusion.
Photo @ Fumihiko Ito