Elena Shatkovskya, Director, and Alexandra Iakolvea, Director of Development at Kenozero National Park visited partner sites in Northern Ireland following a recent Drifting Apart meeting in Scotland.
Nikki from the Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust escorted the guests north along the famous Causeway Coastal passing through rural villages, sweeping valleys and key Drifting Apart sites in Ballycastle and across on Rathlin Island.
The first site visit was at the Giant’s Causeway, a key Drifting Apart site, where Elena and Alexandra were briefed on education programs, site management and conservation strategies, as well as, guided through the visitor center and down to the famous stones! The Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast is Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site, inscribed thirty years ago as a Natural Wold Heritage Site for its outstanding geological formations.
Kenozero National Park is on the Russian Tentative List for World Heritage Site . The full Cultural World Heritage Site application is expected to be submitted later this year and recognizes the important cultural landscape created by Northern European peasant communities between 12th and 16th Centuries including outstanding wooden religious architecture, agricultural land use and epic art, folklore and cultural traditions. During this site visit both locations shared experiences and challenges related to people management, conservation initiatives, site management and N. Ireland representatives outlined what is involved in upholding UNESCO World Heritage Site designation including development and delivery of a management plan.
Day one finished in Derry/Londonderry having continued along the Causeway Coastal Route by Dunluce Castle and Binevenagh Mountain, another Drifting Apart site in the CCGHT area.
Day two began with a very warm welcome at the Ulster American Folk Park, much needed given the freezing fog. This outdoor museum tells the story of emigration from Ireland to America during the eighteenth and nineteenth century, with original buildings preserved and actors detailing what life was once like. Kenozero National Park work to keep alive the traditions of rural dwellers in the Russian North including traditional building techniques, dance and dress and folklore. Therefore this living museum was of great interest and although a museum and not a community like Kenozero both Elena and Alexandra were able to find a lot of inspiration and ideas to take back to Russia.
Continuing south to the final site visit at Marble Arches Caves UNESCO Global Geopark, a Drifting Apart partner. Although off-season Richard Watson provided a guided tour of the caves and visitor center detailing the history of the location and current management practices. Kenozero National Park have recently taken on management of a second National Park, Onezhskoye Pomorye, which is known for its interesting geology. It is hoped geological themed visitor attractions and routes will be developed in this new area to benefit the small rural communities.