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Standards and guidelines – practical tool for the management of landscape heritage

Marie-Claude Quessy
Conservation Landscape Architect
Public Services and Procurement Canada

Landscape heritage management has greatly evolved. Historic landscapes are no longer frozen in time like monuments. Today, a more dynamic approach to rehabilitation is preferred, which allows historic sites to be adapted to contemporary needs. Based on the conservation of a site’s values and character-defining features, this approach can save historic landscapes from obsolescence. Rehabilitating historic sites often requires adapting them to current codes and standards. This sometimes means altering some of their character-defining features. In such cases, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the landscape’s historic value and to plan changes so as to minimize possible impacts on its heritage character. The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada provide guidance when planning for change in historic landscapes. This manual contains both general principles and specific advice that serve to guide decision-making when intervening on heritage sites, including historic landscapes. The document has been adopted by local, provincial and national authorities to help them evaluate interventions on historic sites. It also provides a practical tool for framing landscape analysis, identifying elements to protect, and directing landowners, managers, and consultants toward the best way to adapt and preserve heritage landscapes. Case studies show how the manual can be used to evaluate interventions on a heritage site, and how it can contribute to better decision-making during the design process.