Applicability and Adaptability of Traditional Knowledge Systems in the Conservation and Management of Heritage in Asia


The objective of the 2015 Forum was to explore the potential applicability and adaptability of Traditional Knowledge Systems (TKS) in the conservation and management of heritage in Asia through the analysis of examples from across the region.

TKS are time-tested and dynamic processes that can contribute greatly to the conservation and management of heritage in Asia and elsewhere. TKS in Asia are the product of diverse contexts and in many cases, though not all, were created by communities. The region is particularly rich in written and other documentary sources for TKS. These can potentially bring benefits to that community and to others, such as promoting social resilience, fostering local identity and social cohesion, building intergenerational relationships and encouraging conflict resolution. TKS can help conservation professionals better understand and safeguard the community’s connection with heritage and, through this, safeguard heritage itself. TKS can also help conservation professionals overcome the divide between tangible and intangible heritage, as well as connect cultural heritage to the natural environment in which it is located.

However, the reality on the ground today is that TKS are all too often threatened by a range of socio-economic pressures from the modern globalized world, as well as changes that occur within the knowledge-holding community. With regards to the heritage sector, this has included an increasing professionalization of conservation practice that all too often fails to recognize the importance of TKS.

The challenge therefore lies in reconciling TKS with conventional heritage management systems, showing that the two are potentially compatible and could be mutually beneficial. Various examples illustrate the many TKS in use at a variety of heritage typologies (such as cultural landscapes, urban landscapes, buildings, and protected areas) and related to materials, techniques and other aspects.

Member States represented

Cambodia, China, India, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Viet Nam; Bhutan, Indonesia (Non-Member States)