Project facts

Duration: 2020-10-01 - 2023-09-30
Project coordinator: University of Genoa (UNIGE), Genoa (ITALY)
Project consortium: University of Genoa (UNIGE), Genoa (ITALY); University of Durham, Durham, (UK); University of Granada, Granada (SPAIN); Université Toulouse II Jean Jaurès (GEODE), Toulouse (FRANCE).
Funding bodies: JPI CH
Subject areas: Community involvement, Conservation, Cultural Landscapes, History, Natural Heritage, Policies, Preventive conservation, Rural Heritage, Sustainable development, Threats
Budget: 751 399,02 €


Europe's upland landscapes are a rich and complex heritage, born of the interaction of nature and culture over millennia. Local communities can play an active and essential role in conserving and protecting this heritage, benefitting wider society. However, current conservation measures and land-use decisions consistently fail to consider the historic dimension of upland landscapes and underestimate the contribution of local practitioners in sustaining their environment through active use.

IRIS is a response to these circumstances, and to the threats to upland landscapes from depopulation, abandonment, the loss of traditional skills, and land-use change driven by the climate emergency and economic trends.

IRIS aims to advance the socially and environmentally sustainable conservation, protection, and use of upland landscapes. The project will research and develop a 'living heritage' approach to conservation, promoting the 'protection through use' of upland environments and adjacent rural areas.

Impacts & Results

Through intensive and participatory research in five countries (Spain, France, Italy, Montenegro, the UK) and wider European research and knowledge exchange, IRIS will:

- Demonstrate how knowledge of historical processes and land use practices supports the conservation and sustainable development of upland landscapes;

- Define a 'living heritage' approach to conservation and best practices through which local stakeholders can embed their cultural values, local expertise and traditions;

- Support collaboration among local institutions and communities and realise effective and diverse participation in the conservation, protection, sustainable development and use of upland landscapes;

- Provide local and European policymakers with new tools that will enable them  to: take into account the historical dimension of rural places, and implement a 'living heritage' approach to decision-making;

- Create a new research framework that advances knowledge of upland cultural heritage and its wider social and environmental values and benefits;

- Communicate and disseminate the research results at local, European, and wider international levels.