Preservation by Design®

Global Heritage Fund was founded in 2002 with a mission to take on the foremost challenge of modern conservation: transform the monumental glories of civilization into essential, relevant parts of our shared human culture once again.

How Do We Do It?

Through our integrated methodology of preservation and community development, called Preservation by Design®. Focusing on four key elements, Preservation by Design protects each site as an irreplaceable cultural and economic asset for all humanity.

At Global Heritage Fund, we leave no stone unturned. Before we launch a project, we intensively research the site and surrounding area to determine the threats it faces and the specific steps it requires for successful conservation and management. We then create master conservation and management plans from the ground up. Outlining how we will usher a site from the first clod of earth to the last piece of mortar, Global Heritage Fund’s planning makes long-term and sustainable site conservation and management our number-one priority.

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For each site, we prepare a master plan outlining all of the objectives, priorities, and specific steps necessary for the successful completion of a project. This plan focuses on:

  • Preserving and protecting the outstanding, universal value of the cultural heritage assets
  • Harnessing economic opportunities in harmony with a site’s aesthetic qualities, historic value, and cultural significance
  • Fostering collaboration with key stakeholders in business and government
  • Long-term site preservation through responsible stewardship and management at the local and national levels

Proper planning ensures the physical survival of the sites, thereby making it possible to utilize them as both priceless elements of culture, as well as viable economic assets for the community.

However, conservation does not mean simply restoring a site. Properly managing the restoration process both while we are present on site and after we have left is equally important. Without proper management, the site  cannot live up to its potential as an economic driver for local people. And bereft of this crucial development, its long-term survival remains in doubt.

That is why both management and conservation goals are intertwined in the entire master plan. We begin by providing a comprehensive overview of the threats faced by the site, the opportunities to minimize or neutralize those threats, and the best possible avenues for design and implementation of long-term preservation goals. We take the following pledges to heart in all elements of our master plan:

  • Prioritize conservation activities to preserve and improve the universal significance, as well as the community value, of a site
  • Promote the growth of sustainable tourism and related infrastructure development around the site as a means of supporting long-term preservation goals
  • Attain the interest and support of local communities, organizations, and governmental entities in the conservation of the site, and then promote the educational, cultural, and economic value of these efforts locally, nation-wide, and globally
  • Create a sustainable plan for the future management of the site and surrounding landscape, which balances conservation, visitor access, and development interests
  • Provide an advisory policy framework to guide and influence current and planned site management initiatives
  • Obtain endorsement from state culture and planning ministries and key government decision-makers, as well as key stakeholders

Developed in concert with local, national, and international partners, the master plans incorporate adaptive management, risk assessment, quality assurance, progress assessment, and monitoring after project completion. Adoption of the master plan itself is a critical step to ensuring project success.

To learn more about our planning process, please browse through our white paper.

Conservation science often means the difference between a vibrant, living monument and a pile of indiscernible rubble. With the use of tailored scientific methods, sophisticated solutions, and proven conservation ethics, Global Heritage Fund restores the monumental character of a site so we can relive its legacy and fulfill its potential.

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Understanding a site’s immediate needs is the first step towards conservation, but the second step is more crucial: abiding by the tenets of authentic and ethical conservation. Working alongside leading experts in heritage work, GHF ensures that the appropriate scientific methods are used to master a site’s specific challenges in a natural, authentic, and ethical way. Incorporating advanced technology, timely interpretation, and professional training, GHF builds a solid foundation for the sustainable preservation of a community’s heritage assets.

We begin at each site with comprehensive surveys of both the land and the monuments. Incorporating advanced technology such as aerial photography, 3D scanning, and geophysical surveying, our macro-level topographical studies give us the whole picture and functional form of the site. With these complete, we then begin micro-level surveys of the monuments and buildings, which provide critical information on physical properties and highlight areas in need of urgent intervention.

We then determine the best possible approach to preserve each site while maintaining the highest standards of authenticity and ethical conservation:

  • Like-with-Like: repairing or replacing materials only with similar materials, maintaining the authenticity of the site and ensuring that traditional materials are preserved.
  • Reversibility: repairing or replacing site materials in a reversible manner, allowing experts to easily and safely interchange the use of materials when required in the future.
  • Non-Reconstruction: never reconstructing dispersed or disassembled materials without good cause. Bereft of clear documentation regarding the original form of a site or monument, our experts avoid any attempts at putting dispersed materials back together.
  • Anastylosis: where there is clear reason and evidence to show that certain dispersed or disassembled materials held a certain form, it is both rational and ethical to reconstruct these materials in that particular form.

What good is experience if no one can learn from it? We work closely with communities in order to integrate them into every phase of our project. The more they know, the better equipped they are to realize the potential of their heritage in a way that is both culturally sensitive and economically sustainable. That’s how Global Heritage Fund’s projects empower people to become responsible stewards of their own heritage, and to transform their past into a vibrant part of their living present.

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The realities of everyday life in developing regions of the world often preclude long-term and sustainable investments, including the preservation of cultural or natural assets. Growing global concern over poverty has increased pressure to find “win-win” solutions for preserving cultural assets without ignoring the plight of nearby communities. 

Cultural heritage sites are threatened by a host of factors. In some cases, the overwhelming potential of a site may compel local communities to find quick economic initiatives that bring in the most money, but which lack any authentic integrity and preservation practices.  In other instances, extreme poverty and the daily struggle for subsistence may drive the population to looting, logging, and “slash-and-burn” agriculture. Either way, these practices endanger heritage sites and permanently threaten the integrity of irreplaceable cultural treasures.

Long-standing experience working in these regions has proved that a community-based approach must be an integral part of conservation. Without the active engagement of the local population, any preservation project – despite its lofty goals and high ambitions – will be short-lived. Global Heritage Fund’s community development initiatives aim to empower both individuals and local groups by providing them with the resources to effect change in their own communities. Creating a vested interest in the long-term preservation of a site, Global Heritage Fund leverages community development as a stepping stone to sustainable preservation. This approach allows us to maximize the economic value of cultural assets and to galvanize the development potential of local communities.

What are some specific ways we engage the local community?

Income and Employment Generation

  • Project Employment
  • Entrepreneurship Training and Development
  • Sustainable Community-Based Tourism Development
  • Agricultural Assistance and Development

Training and Capacity Building

  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Conservation Training
  • Tourism Training
  • Conferences and Workshops
  • Language Training

Social Development

  • Heritage and Environmental Education
  • Water, Sanitation, and Waste Removal
  • Health Improvements and Investments
  • Social Infrastructure – Roads, Electricity, Airport, etc.

Site Development

  • Community Inclusive Planning
  • Guidebook Development
  • Visitor Center
  • Pathways, Signage, and Interpretation
  • Marketing and Promotion
  • Visitor Management

We work better when we work together. All successful conservation begins and ends with successful partnerships, because the fight for heritage preservation and enhancement is fundamentally a communal endeavor. Whether we’re partnering with local governments or bringing international donors on board, Global Heritage Fund envelops each project with a supportive web of sympathetic organizations and institutions. 

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Global Heritage Fund works with many different partners, ranging from local community boards, NGOs, private sector companies, and local and national governmental bodies. Together with our partners, we secure in-country, in-kind, and international funding for site infrastructure, emergency restoration funds, and community development and social programs. Areas for complementary in-country funding and programs depend on each project’s unique plan. Where appropriate, local organizations are established for individual projects to oversee and advance long-term site protection, funding needs, business development, and training for local communities.

During almost 15 years of operation, Global Heritage Fund has won numerous awards and accolades for its innovative approach to the most pressing issues of modern conservation.

  • We partner with organizations that are leaders in their fields and communities, and which can act as bulwarks of conservation and engines of sustainable economic growth.
  • We recruit highly skilled individuals to maintain the highest standards of quality in our efforts, and we give top-tier training to local people to empower them to be forces of change in their own towns and villages.
  • We craft site plans and growth strategies that are tailored to accommodate communities and their special requirements.

©David Goeury - Global Heritage Fund

©David Goeury – Global Heritage Fund

How Do We Choose?

The rich tapestry of our heritage requires a farsighted conservation approach to survive. Global Heritage Fund depends on a rigorous vetting process to ensure that each project remains safe for future generations to enjoy and benefit from. Ensuring each potential project site adheres to strict conditions of applicability and feasibility, we set up every one of our ventures for long-term success. To be accepted as a Global Heritage Fund project, each site must fulfill the following requirements:

The site must be “at risk” or “in danger,” but also have the potential for adequate protection and management.

A site must be located in a region of economic need. While the main focus of Global Heritage Fund’s work will continue to be in developing countries and regions, GHF will also investigate projects in areas or regions of economic need in middle-income countries.

Each project must fulfill all four Preservation by Design® components:

  1. Planning
  2. Conservation Science
  3. Community Development
  4. Local Partnerships

The project must have concrete goals and a definitive timeline, and shall deploy appropriate professionals and skilled workers in an efficient manner.

The project must involve a World Heritage Site inscribed by the United Nations’ cultural arm, UNESCO. If the site has the capacity to fulfill World Heritage criteria but is not currently listed, Global Heritage Fund may choose to accept it as one of its projects.

Behind every successful project is a strong and seasoned Project Director who can coordinate the various scientific, economic, and political aspects involved in every project. In addition to Global Heritage Fund personnel on the ground, projects are structured in partnership with local, regional, and national planning and cultural agencies. Open-ended projects will not be considered.

  • Project Timeline
  • Partnerships/Identified Co-Funding
  • Risks
  • Ownership/Sustainability
  • Portfolio Considerations — urban versus rural, archaeological versus architectural

How Do I Get Involved?

Global Heritage Fund has helped to preserve almost 20 sites around the globe.

Learn more about how you can get involved.