Public Release: 

Tecnalia is advancing the sustainable development of threatened villages in rural Europe

Elhuyar Fundazioa

This press release is available in Spanish.

The historic towns and villages in the rural environment along with their surrounding landscapes are a unique feature of European identity. These territories and landscapes have developed over many centuries, and at one time were the focal points of economic and social activity; but now they are under serious threat. While most of the European population is concentrated in large urban areas, over 80% of Europe's territory is of a rural nature in which about 4,500 small towns and villages of less than 20,000 inhabitants live and work. The changes in economic activity, demographic shifts, and the intensive use of private vehicles has led to the loss of facilities, services and investment in these communities.

Tecnalia is participating with eleven other institutions from eleven countries from all over Europe in the HISTCAPE project to save these threatened places. This project, a European Inter-regional Co-operation project, focuses on the sustainable development of rural areas in the process of disappearing. The project aims to safeguard historical quarters, enhance their social and cultural heritage, retain their social cohesion and convert them into engines of economic development.

HISTCAPE will identify policies and make strategic recommendations for the agents responsible for preserving the cultural heritage of small populations in Europe´s rural environment. The idea is to create fresh perspectives geared towards the creation of new tools and policies adapted to the sustainable management, development and protection of the landscape and small historical centres. This in turn will slow down and even reverse the spiral of decline facing these threatened places and lessen the impact linked to the social, economic and cultural deterioration hanging over these rural areas.

Tecnalia is leading the laboratory on the implementation of policies to preserve the rural heritage. It will apply and test six pilot trials of six good practices in six regions throughout Europe. Tecnalia will be specifying the general methodology for the applying, testing and validation of these polices. On the basis of the outcomes obtained, iTecnalia will specify a General Framework for implementing the results in each participating region. This will be used for specifying the implementation plans of each region and for transferring the results obtained to the personnel in each region responsible for future implementation.

To add value on the European level, the HISTCAPE partners will publish the results of their co-operation in a guide on the preservation of the values of rural heritage. It will include the practices, ideas, general guidelines for implementation, common methodologies as well as the policy recommendations. This publication will serve as an operative tool with a theme-based and practical approach.

Tecnalia is participating together with the Ministry of the Environment of Slovenia, the development agencies of the regions of Styria (Austria), Saaremaa (Estonia), West Macedonia (Greece); the regional governments of Castilla y León (Spain), the Northern Region of Portugal, Marche (Italy), Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany), Vidzeme (Lithuania); the municipal district of Alytus (Latvia) and the European Association of Historic Towns and Regions.


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