La Serena county in the Spanish region of Extremadura has a strong cultural and natural identity that makes it unique, with a great diversity of forms of heritage, both tangible and intangible. Managing these resources sustainably only accentuates the sensitivity of the region to the dangers that threaten rural areas, such as aging and the gradual loss of population.
Extremadura faces a scarcity of resources and their poor organization in the management of cultural heritage. This derives, fundamentally, from two factors: the first relates to previous development models which undervalue the true relevance of this heritage and its significance for the region, by the administration and by society itself. The second is inefficient coordination among the entities and bodies (public and private) acting in the region, fundamentally due to the lack of action protocols to regulate and unify the criteria. Improved coordination could facilitate and accelerate the decision-making processes and the execution of responsibilities and competences of each of them.
In order to address this and other problems, CEDER “La Serena” has been founded, and it has launched the initiative “La Serena, Cultural Landscape” with funds from the Provincial Council of Badajoz. Conceived to create structure and foster participation, it will serve as a the cornerstone for the socioeconomic activation and sustainable management of the region’s heritage.
In addition, thanks to the participation of La Serena in SHARE, the action protocols those actions from other management models that are transferable to the territory and that respond to their current and future needs.
The Local Action Plan developed as the key output of SHARE sets forth a range of proposals whose implementation will improve La Serena for residents, tourists and local businesses. The Region considers the application of the Action Plan in La Serena as a pilot, and will monitor results over two years (2019-2020).
The proposed improvements are:
1. Annual Cultural Agenda: website that collects and disseminates all information related to cultural events held in La Serena.
2. Communication plan (internal and external): its objective is simply to facilitate the flow of information, both between collaborating organizations and with the rest of the citizenry.
3. Dynamisation of the La Serena Documentation Centre: the contents have been reorganised to improve accessibility.
4. Actions for the promotion of heritage (cultural and natural): with the aim of publicizing and valorising this wealth of heritage, whether material or immaterial, to the residents of the territory and potential visitors.
5. Surveys and suggestion box: aimed at listening to citizens’ ideas for improving the functioning and development of the region.
6. Training actions focused on different groups: teachers, students, local development agents and local tourist guides, through environmental education and territorial information actions.
7. Continued activity in social networks: at present they have become essential tools in terms of dissemination and gain of notoriety before specific audiences.
8. Protocols for attending events and fairs: promotional, didactic and informative material on the region has been generated, to be made available at activities and events presenting an opportunity for promotion.
9. Protocols for counting visitors: today, only a few interpretation centres and museums monitor the influx of visitors. This practice will be expanded to all those able to provide useful information in this regard (hotels, restaurants, churches and hermitages, among others).
10. Incentives for entrepreneurial ideas in Green and Circular Economy: to ensure the future of the region’s natural environment, while business opportunities are created.
Related: read a good practice about Extremadura's management of one of its Roman-era cultural heritage sites.