Project facts

Duration: 2021-06-01 - 2024-05-31
Project coordinator: University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland
Project consortium: University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland Czech University of Life Sciences, Czech Republic Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonia University of Bergen, Norway
Funding bodies: The United Kingdom – Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Czech Republic – Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MŠMT) Norway – The Research Council of Norway (RCN) Estonia – Estonian Research Council (ETAg
Subject areas: Changing environments, Climate Change, Community involvement, Cultural Landscapes, Heritage values - Identity, Intangible Heritage, Natural Heritage, Rural Heritage, Sustainability, Sustainable development, Sustainable Development Goals
Budget: € 795646 (€745297 funded by JPICH)


CULTIVATE seeks to understand the role of cultural heritage in shaping sustainable landscapes and communities in the context of societal challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate emergency and transitions required to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This research will explore how cultural narratives are co-created, contested and negotiated at community, regional and national scales using methods that bring to the fore cultural values, identity and relationships between people and land. CULTIVATE aims to make conceptual advances by integrating cultural heritage paradigms with socio-ecological systems (SES) to design a methodology to analyse how cultural narratives emerge in relation to stakeholder dynamics, landscape features and drivers of change. CULTIVATE will explore different meaning of heritage through a participatory co-creation approach thereby contributing to JPICH CHIP project and also informing progress towards SDGs. Cultural narratives will be reshaped using the ‘Seeds of a good Anthropocene’ methodology which focuses on using inspirational visions and stories to achieve transformations to sustainability. CULTIVATE will have valuable impact in real world socio-ecological systems by conducting research across four Biosphere Reserves which represent a diverse spectrum of rural cultural landscapes with an ethos of scientific-based management and community engagement. Cultural narratives in the BR communities will be contrasted with those at regional and national level to explore how cultural heritage is conceptualised in different parts of SES. Findings will be synthesised for dissemination both regionally/nationally and internationally. A bank of narratives expressed in written and arts-based forms will be produced as a resource and other outcomes will include policy recommendation for the integration of intangible heritage into planning and management. CULTIVATE will have lasting impact on communities through the empowering nature of its co-creation approach. The role of Biosphere Reserves as demonstration regions will lead to international impact through global Biosphere networks.

Impacts & Results

The Biospheres involved in CULTIVATE will have a key role in facilitating the community engagement that is key to eliciting and understanding cultural narratives related to sustainable development. Collaborative co-creative approaches will identify the ways in which Biospheres may best implement and benefit from the CULTIVATE methodology and ensure that project activities align with regional priorities and aspirations for managing cultural heritage and contributing to sustainable development and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Biospheres provide contrasting landscapes in which to conduct the research and the synthesis of findings across these cultural landscapes will provide valuable cross-cutting insights into applying cultural narratives associated with diverse natural resources, as well as socio-economic contexts to regional sustainability goals and the global SDGs. As such, the outputs will be of direct relevance to managers of cultural landscapes across Europe.

Decision makers and heritage organisations will be engaged in the project through narrative co-creation processes at the regional and national levels. Encouraging their participation will increase the relevance and applicability of project outputs, and the likelihood of uptake by decision makers. A bank of cultural narratives in each landscape will cover a range of themes relevant for regional policy development, such as community identity, future of land use and tourism practices and responses to global challenges. Collaboration with policy makers will identify specific ways in which CULTIVATE outputs can be used in policies to support regional and national development

We expect CULTIVATE to have considerable scholarly impact through the publication of findings in open access peer-reviewed journals. The conceptual framework linking social-ecological systems theory and cultural heritage is a novel approach, for example, and will bring together academic disciplines that have traditionally been very distinct. We will also make methodological contributions to the literature through the use of novel community-based co-creation processes.