• 4DHeritage team

How to ensure conservation projects have a lasting impact: Three Transformational Ideas

Throughout the world, people, from expert practitioners to young people in the community, are searching for ways of ensuring that both the fragile sites and ecosystems are preserved and accessible for generations to come.

Governments may see themselves as the custodian of national heritage, the preservation of fragile heritage in a rapidly changing world often comes down to the commitment and actions of the local communities that live by it or amongst it.

The image shows young people involved in the restoration of the Shali Fortress in the Siwa Oasis. Image courtesy of EQI.


The Corona virus outbreak have compounded the challenges of conservation as a result of how it may be affecting the community, complicate operations and reduce resources available. We need to ensure that any programmes are as effective, efficient and sustainable as they can be.

The first idea is the virtuous circle which links heritage with community outreach and education. Digital heritage dramatically opens up the possibilities for doing this. Everything The virtuous circle underpins sustainable heritage management.


Education and outreach can help local communities and visitors interpret, understand and learn about the site.

That understanding translates into a greater appreciation of the value of the site or place. Valuing leads to caring and caring leads to the site being conserved in way it can be enjoyed by that generation and generations to come.

The second idea is about transforming the learning experience that underpins understanding and interpretation. It is the John Muir model for engaging individuals and organisations in the learning process and is based on four stages:

1. Discover

2. Explore

3. Record

4. Share.

The power of this approach is that it encourages a personal journey of discovery which provides context for practical action alongside opportunities to for gaining knowledge and skills.

In the context of a heritage site, be it built or natural, it can foster a sense of responsibility and community engagement.



The third idea is the power of immersive learning. Traditional approaches to learning have often focused upon a didactic experience where a teacher may lead a pupil or a prescribed path.

The use of virtual experiences, place the learner and not the teacher at the centre of the learning process. Experiences potentially augmented with text, narration or even videos can provide an interactive experience which is responsive to the interest of the individual exploring the place.




The learning experience becomes dynamic, and the role of the learner is proactive rather than reactive. It can create both an understanding and empathy for that place and the stories it relates to.

All three elements have been brought together in the 4DHeritage lesson plans and we have guides and mentors to provide support to organisations interested in trialing them. If this is something you would like to explore, please get in touch.

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