Development of National Guidelines

The development stage of the project was organized as a series of meetings, workshops, and site visits among the partners over a three-year period (1997–2000).

The aims of the project were formally established at a meeting of the partners in Beijing in October 1997 under the auspices of SACH, which created the core working group, headed by Zhang Bai, deputy director-general of SACH. This SACH working group undertook the responsibility for writing and revising the guidelines and participating in meetings and workshops.

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The first workshop was held in Australia in February 1998 in order to understand the development of Australia's heritage conservation guidelines (as expressed in the Burra Charter of Australia ICOMOS), and to examine the practice of conservation and management in that country. The workshop was structured around visits to historic and prehistoric sites—in and around Sydney and Canberra—chosen to reflect a wide range of heritage values and approaches to conservation, management, interpretation, and use. Discussions centered on how the conservation principles and planning process advocated in the Burra Charter have been applied to these heritage places. A follow-up meeting was held in Australia in January–February 1999. In both workshops, a range of Australian authorities and practitioners participated—national, state, local, and private. Additionally, discussions with Australia ICOMOS were held with the purpose of explaining how the organization operates in Australia, using the instrument of the Burra Charter.

Workshops and meetings were also held in China in 1998 and 1999 at the World Heritage sites of the Chengde Imperial Mountain Resort and Outlying Temples in Hebei Province, and the Mogao Grottoes in Gansu Province, in which the Principles, at various stages of development, were tested against the realities of problems faced by site managers, and validated through the development of a conservation and management plan for the Mogao Grottoes. Periodic review meetings among the core team and visits to sites with briefings by site managers and other professionals—followed by discussions—informed the process of writing the guidelines. Site visits and meetings with site managers and staff took place in Beijing and Tianjin Municipalities, and Hebei, Liaoning, Shandong, Fujian, Gansu, and Yunnan Provinces.

In addition, periodic meetings were held by SACH with a group of thirty Chinese experts to garner wider input to the Principles and ensure support of Chinese practitioners in the process.

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The final review meeting on the Principles and study tour took place in the United States in April and May 2000. Site visits in Los Angeles, California, and the southwestern United States (New Mexico) provided insights into professional practice in the United States. The U.S. State Department, Office of International Visitors, hosted an extension of the trip to the Washington, D.C. area to round out the participants' experience of conservation practice in the United States.

At an internal meeting of the SACH core group and experts at Chengde in October 2000, the final document and associated commentary was ratified and issued under the auspices of China ICOMOS with the approval of SACH. A formal English translation of the document, finalized in 2002, was also approved by SACH and used in the bilingual Chinese-English publication.

Last updated: November 2006


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