While the World Heritage Convention is a relatively new conservation instrument, conservation activity has been taking place consciously and unconsciously, throughout the life of our historic towns and urban quarters. Were it not so, such centres would not exist.

Over the life of such towns, those involved in their management have evolved a great range of tools and mechanisms to maintain their characteristic heritage attributes. Some involve high degrees of regulatory control and involvement; some high degrees of citizen involvement and support. These may include expropriation, regulatory control, financial incentives (including tax rebates, grants, low-interest loans, density or rights transfers), design review, design guidelines and public education. The appropriate use of each depends on establishing full understanding of the cultural values of these ensembles, and the sites and elements within such values lie.

Choice of the most appropriate tools for any community will involve an assessment of several related factors : the resources and capacities of a community, the nature of the existing threats, the particular qualities it is desired to protect or enhance, the climate of support for heritage conservation, the impact on other legitimate public mandates, and the time-frame in which it is desired to achieve results.

Communities have widely varying resources available to them, and consequently widely differing capacities to act in protection of their heritage. These resources may be financial, material and human. Where group or individual resources appear to be lacking, in recognition of the shared public benefits of conservation, it may be necessary for towns to adjust their priorities in order to allocate public resources more properly to those benefits. Tax rebates, financing incentives, outright grants - all are examples of financial mechanisms designed to alter that framework and improve the attractiveness of the heritage conservation option.

Communities also reflect widely varying states of maturity and development in their regard for, and definition of heritage. Those where consciousness is low may require short-term measures to protect heritage elements in the face of immediate threats. Where public interest in heritage is sufficiently high to provide a measure of insulation from the prospect of loss, then the most appropriate mechanisms for long-term success are likely those that continue to build heritage interest and commitment in the population.

In each case two complementary questions are required : what characteristics are the chosen mechanisms meant to respect? What characteristics are the mechanisms under consideration most likely to encourage?



The development of an effective organizational strategy among those involved in implementation of conservation programmes or activities requires attention on at least three levels : development of the conservation team; utilization of a conservation process and understanding and realization of conservation plans.

The conservation team must include and integrate the contributions of individuals from a variety of disciplines. The conservation process must encourage their collaboration in defining a city's heritage character and supporting elements, and in actions which support that character. And the conservation plan must embody the particular goals established within the studies which accompany the process.



Within the planning departments of historic cities concerned with heritage conservation, responsibility for heritage programmes is usually assigned to planning personnel. As the number of people involved in the programmes grows, it is useful to ensure that their composition reflects the multidisciplinary nature of the best conservation work.

Effective conservation departments within civic government will usually be characterized by the following:
- representatives from a variety of the research and investigation disciplines working together with each other; - a team approach to decision-making and programme planning in which the various disciplines contribute equally in choosing directions.



Conservation is value based. For a particular site, building or ensemble, the conservation process first establishes the heritage values invested within it. Once these values are clarified, the conservation process then permits the assessment of the impact of possible options, and the choice of those of least harm to the values identified.

Respect for the conservation process in historic cities requires the members of the conservation team to follow its steps. Documentation, evaluation and inventory permit the identification of values to be maintained; development options may then be measured against these.

The conservation process ensures a minimum intervention approach, focusing as it does on minimizing negative impact on values. Successful employment of the process also requires assessment of functional needs, and delineation of other criteria which options must meet.



Even when the choice of conservation tools to be used flows from scrupulously careful application of the planning process - even when the tool employed is designed to respond in holistic fashion to a variety of integrated concerns - once in place, those applying it may lose sight of its link to larger goals.

It is important to retain all of the analysis that has gone into the choices made, so that required adjustments are made to the strategy as a whole, not just to isolated elements.

Perhaps the most convenient means to provide such direction is to incorporate a community's strategic choices in a document that incorporates the basis for the choices made, that makes reference to the significant qualities it is desired to manage and that describes the targets (or criteria) that actions are to meet if successful. This instrument is usually called a conservation plan.

1. the differences between zones created through designation can intensify over time, and the disparity between "have" and "have not" increase;
2. it can artificially slow the economy of an area by preferentially directing development investment to zones where least resistance is anticipated (while nearby, more significant buildings suffer increased neglect);
3. the reasons for the distinctions made are quickly lost sight of; the plan therefore loses its ability to respond flexibly to new circumstances;
4. the plan may provide developers with aggressive development opportunities, without accompanying responsibility for integrating their efforts with other objectives.

The best conservation plans are those that don't permit the "why" to be lost sight of, where actions are clearly related to defined problems or values and where the impact of changes may be readily envisioned on an entire system of integrated programmes and tools.