Local communities for heritage: good practices in Central Europe

This publication is part of the “Culture and Nature. Local communities for heritage: good practices from Central Europe” conference held at Cieszyn Castle on March 29th, 2023. The idea of Culture and Nature was taken from Jan Gwalbert Pawlikowski’s 1913 conservation classic “Culture and Nature”. Jan Gwalbert Pawlikowski (1860–1939) was an acclaimed publicist, economist and politician and one of the precursors of environmental protection in Poland. We decided on hosting the conference in Cieszyn and the Cieszyn/Těšín Silesia Euroregion because the city and the region brilliantly bring together the two ideas of Culture and Nature; the region has been an inspiration for many to protect heritage and develop ecotourism.

The conference brought together more than 50 community leaders representing civil society organizations, local government and business from the Cieszyn/Těšín Silesia region, the Land of the Upper Oder, other parts of Poland (graduates of the Partnership Academy) and Central Europe – Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia and Ukraine. The extensive program included presentations, interviews and debates with engaging and inspiring speakers responsible for innovative approaches and schemes for heritage-friendly community development. The conference concluded with the signing of the Declaration about the role of ecotourism in protecting and preserving natural and cultural heritage and the Declaration of cooperation of the Cieszyn Wine Trail on the Greenway network. One of the highlights of the conference was an eco study tour of the Cieszyn/Těšín Silesia region and the municipalities of Godów and Jastrzębie-Zdrój. The study tour program consisted of meeting local leaders and discovering local heritage initiatives including: the Iron Bike Trail, the Szymańcówka kayak dock in JastrzębieZdrój, The Naturalist’s Home in Hażlach and the Cieszyn Wine Trail with its headquarters at the castle in Kończyce Wielkie.

The conference proceedings provide a broad sampling of local good practices in cultural and natural heritage protection. They are a collection of inspiring stories of how heritage represents an enduring value for our communities, with examples from Central Europe, Poland and the transnational region of Cieszyn/ Těšín Silesia. The topics covered include approaches to heritage interpretation and protection, development of ecotourism, the role of women leaders in using heritage to drive local development, improve livelihoods and make us all more sensitive and appreciative of the beauty that lies in culture, nature and landscape.

We hope you enjoy the read!

On behalf of the conference organizers and project partnership:
Dominika Zaręba, Anna Woźniak-Lubaś and Bogdan Kasperek