206 participants from 27 countries gathered in Inverness, capital of the Scottish Highlands, for a joint conference of Interpret Europe with AHI, the UK and Ireland Association for Heritage Interpretation

This 2017 European Conference on Heritage Interpretation focused on how we communicate the values we bring to, but also take from, our landscapes. This is a vital task for heritage interpreters; be this in the wilder uninhabited regions or in cultural landscapes inhabited by humans for millennia. The European Landscape Convention recognises the strategic importance that landscape now holds.

Heritage interpretation is uniquely placed to support an integrated view of landscape, weaving together natural and cultural heritage. The conference highlighted the power and potential of our multi-disciplinary approach in enabling people to find meaning, value and ownership in landscapes, past, present and future.

The conference looked at:

  1. Landscapes as a meeting place
  2. Landscapes for life support and livelihoods
  3. Landscapes as wilderness

The event was opened by the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop who gave a positive welcome and highlighted the importance of our work. Keynote addresses were provided by Drew Bennellick, Head of Landscape and Natural Heritage for the Heritage Lottery Fund who have provided over €150 million for landscape conservation in the UK and also by Carol Ritchie, Executive Director of the Europarc Federation who welcomed closer working between our interpretive organsiations and the Federation’s membership.

Four parallel sessions allowed 34 other presentations on the above theme. There were full day study visits to:

  • Cairngorms National Park – the largest National Park in the UK. The Park has a strategic approach to interpreting its heritage values, with partner organisations and communities sharing the same messages to 1.6 million visitors. Visits went to ‘secret’ landscape of Tomintoul and Glenlivet in the north of the Park and the Glenmore Corridor – the key visitor honeypot.
  • Beinn Eighe and Knockan Crag National Nature Reserves (NNR) – both these sites are in the mountainous and scenically stunning North West Highlands. Beinn Eighe, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is the oldest NNR in the UK and has been actively welcoming visitors for nearly 50 years. Knockan Crag, one of the World’s most important locations for understanding the geology of our planet, has outstanding geological interpretation.
  • World renowned landscapes around Loch Ness, including the historic Urquhart Castle, and the battlefield of Culloden with its evocative visitor centre telling the story of how this battle changed the cultural landscape of the Highlands of Scotland forever.

You can download and view some speeches here.

Welcome address Bill Bevan (AHI) and Thorsten Ludwig (IE)
Welcome address Fiona Hyslop (Scottish Cabinet)
Keynote Carol Ritchie (Europarc Federation) (Link Youtube)