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Monitoring in the Tanum World Heritage

World Heritage is defined in the World Heritage Convention as cultural and natural heritage that is “of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art, or science.” Countries that have ratified the World Heritage Convention are required to ensure the identification, protection, conservation, presentation, and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage designated as World Heritage. This involves having policies, organizations, legislation, research, and cultural heritage practices that collectively provide the conditions for the care and preservation of the World Heritage sites. This commitment includes monitoring and addressing any deficiencies and threats to the values of the World Heritage site.

Managers of areas included in the World Heritage List should ensure the long-term preservation of the values that are essential to humanity and communicate them to both visitors and residents in the area. To achieve this, an evaluation system with indicators, both qualitative and quantitative, should be in place. By regularly evaluating the results of management efforts, a solid foundation is provided for a future-oriented and proactive management of the area.

The overall purpose of the monitoring efforts is to gather knowledge about the designated attributes of the World Heritage site: the rock carvings and other archaeological remains, as well as the open cultural landscape and the placement of buildings in the landscape.

The Litsleby site in 1930. Photo: Nils Niklasson. Source: Swedish Rock Art Research Archives.

The three parties of the Management Council – the County Administrative Board of Västra Götaland, Tanum Municipality, and the Region of Västra Götaland – are jointly responsible for implementing the monitoring work in the Tanum World Heritage site.

Condition of the rock carvings

The rock carvings are by far the most important reason why Tanum was designated as a World Heritage site, and monitoring the condition of the rock carvings is the most crucial part of the monitoring work. The purpose of this monitoring measure is to study any deterioration of the rock where the carvings are made. The work is carried out using 3D scanning with a handheld laser scanner. All locations with rock carvings in the World Heritage site depicting motifs are scanned as part of the ongoing documentation project by the County Administrative Board of Västra Götaland. In addition, several smaller casts made in the 1930s have been scanned. The high precision of the documentation allows for the detection of changes in the surface layer and enables a comparison of how the rock has changed over the past 90 years.

Development of settlements

The purpose of this study is to map the development of settlements within the World Heritage site to show during which periods buildings have been constructed and their locations in the landscape. The study was conducted by Tanum Municipality.

Land use analysis

The open cultural landscape shaped by thousands of years of agriculture is an important part of the World Heritage designation. The land use analysis allows tracking how the landscape changes and is used over time, showing the distribution of arable land, pasture, and forest from 1930 to the present. The analysis utilized economic maps from the 1930s and 1970s, as well as agricultural blocks for 2020.

Visitor numbers

In many places around the world, mass tourism poses a significant threat to many World Heritage sites. High visitor pressure can lead to wear and tear and, in extreme cases, endanger the values of the World Heritage site through exploitation, such as hotel development. Ensuring that visitor flow is at a sustainable level is therefore an important conservation issue.