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Conservation tools and techniques

How should OEH best collect, map & manage cultural knowledge and information? What are the best decision support tools for managing and conserving cultural heritage?

Research in the area of conservation tools and techniques aims to, firstly, analyse emerging trends and issues in NSW and in the national and international context and, secondly, provide practical guidance on improved ways of assessing, conserving and managing cultural heritage places and landscapes.

An archaeological excavation in Ben Boyd National Park on the NSW south coast, 1999
 Learning how to copy engravings at the Aboriginal Sites School  Cape Byron Lightstation guest accommodation

Research projects

How can the community values of heritage places be effectively integrated into 'significance assessment' and land management? This research project (2000-2001) reviewed three decades (1970s-1990s) of NPWS cultural heritage research and management. The discussion paper argues that any one place in the landscape may be significant to different people for many different reasons. It proposes a more fluid process of significance assessment - one that involves community members in investigating the whole range of heritage values of places and landscapes.

This guide (2001) was prepared to assist in the identification of Aboriginal unmarked graves. It is aimed to assist non-specialists who have only limited technical expertise to select the most appropriate technique(s) for grave identification.

Oral history is an essential part of OEH's cultural heritage work and involves both Aboriginal and non-indigenous people. These guidelines were prepared for OEH staff who are engaged in recording oral histories with people from communities throughout NSW.

This guide (2006) was developed to provide information on the identification and recording of Aboriginal scarred trees in NSW.

How can an assessment of Aboriginal cultural heritage be conducted at a regional scale? This research project (2004-2006) developed a general approach to cultural heritage regional assessment which can be adopted in a regional assessment and planning process.

The literature review examines concepts of culture, cultural heritage, landscape and cultural landscape. It outlines landscape-scale approaches that are being applied in cultural heritage management around the world and in Australia, and discusses ways in which some of these approaches may lead to more effective management of NSW national parks and reserves.

This resource document on Aboriginal fishing in NSW has been compiled to direct Aboriginal people and researchers interested in the topic to existing documentary sources. The emphasis of the bibliography is Aboriginal women’s fishing.

  • Cultural landscapes: a practical guide for park management

All landscapes contain the imprint of human use. This guide has been prepared for use by park managers to assist in the identification, assessment, management and interpretation of cultural heritage landscapes and cultural values. It advocates a 'cultural landscape approach'.

  • Historic themes framework for NSW parks

The NSW NPWS parks system contains broad scale landscapes which are layered with histories and meanings. This framework (forthcoming) provides an overview of the historical activities, processes and events which have taken place across protected areas in NSW. Historic themes are a tool that can be applied in park management.

  • Values assessment discussion paper

How can we both recognise the value of the multiple constructed meanings and make conservation decisions in the real world which will almost certainly privilege some meanings over others? This current research project examines different value frameworks from around the world that are applied to heritage. It explores the practicalities of managing the uncertainty and fluidity of varying conceptions of heritage and heritage value.

Selected papers

Denis Byrne 2008, 'Heritage as social action', in Graham Flairclough, Rodney Harrison, John H Jameson Jnr and John Schofield (eds), The Heritage Reader, Routledge, London, 149-73.

Steve Brown 2007, 'Landscaping heritage: toward an operational cultural landscape approach for protected areas in NSW'. Australasian Historical Archaeology 25: 33-42.

Page last updated: 06 January 2015