Cultural environment and built heritage

Cultural environments are a remarkable cultural, social and economic resource. They are important for the identities and well-being of people. Cultural environments and the features particular to them provide a unique edge to regions and places, serve as the foundation of the development of local communities and create business opportunities. 

Cultural environments are environments shaped by human activities, such as cultural landscapes in the countryside, forests, urban areas and cities, fixed archaeological structures on land or water, constructions and built environments from different ages, along with bridges, roads, power lines and industrial and harbour areas. 

On the one hand, cultural environments are a non-renewable resource, on the other hand, they are in a constant state of renewal and development. When changing and developing valuable cultural environments or creating new cultural environments or parts thereof, the values of the existing environment are a good starting point. What is lost once in a cultural environment, will remain lost forever.

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© Tapio Heikkilä

Architectural heritage

A built cultural environment or architectural heritage encompasses buildings, built areas and various structures, such as roads, bridges and power lines. Built cultural environments comprise both everyday environments, and protected or otherwise recognised areas and sites.

Maintenance and protection of cultural environments

Cultural environments survive if they are used for their natural purpose and maintained constantly. Good maintenance is aided by good examples, guidance, training and environmental education.

The maintenance and protection of cultural landscapes are controlled by national legislation, the Land Use and Building Act in particular, and by international agreements and recommendations. Fixed ancient monuments are protected under the Antiquities Act. Buildings, groups of buildings and built areas can be protected under the Act on the Protection of Buildings. However, the most common way of protecting and cherishing valuable cultural environments is land use planning, which is based on municipal decisions.

Knowledge base

The recognition and assessment of the characteristics of cultural environments is based on inventories and reports. They can concern the built environment, archaeological heritage or cultural landscape. Inventories and reports form the basis for the definition of the values of cultural environments.

The National Board of Antiquities has prepared an inventory of nationally important cultural historical environments (RKY 2009).

The National Board of Antiquities keeps a register of ancient monuments. The register portal of cultural historical environments contains information on ancient monuments, their maintenance and the related research projects and archaeological finds.

Defining the shared goals and actions and planning the forms of operation are the starting points of local and regional cultural environment programmes.

Cultural Environment Strategy

The Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of the Environment established a working group which drew up a proposal for the first national cultural environment strategy in June 2013.

European Heritage Days

European Heritage Days are held every autumn, with the aim or raising awareness of Europe's cultural diversity. The purpose of the events is to rouse public interest and increase the knowledge and appreciation of built heritage.

Published 2013-10-25 at 13:14, updated 2015-03-19 at 13:57