Local Dynamics and Integration of UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Outstanding Universal Value: Evidence from Cultural Landscapes in Ethiopia and Kenya


Landscape heritage, Environmental changes, Heritage conservation, Cultural landscape futures, Eastern Africa


Ethiopia, Kenya


Designation of cultural landscapes as UNESCO World Heritage Sites with outstanding universal values defines a globally recognized status, beyond their local values. However, cultural landscapes are not static, and many of them, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, experience strong local dynamics with massive environmental, economic and social changes and conflicts. This study, therefore, aims to understand UNESCO World Heritage Sites as ‘living’ landscapes that are shaped and transformed through local dynamics including context-specific socio-economic, cultural, environmental and political factors. The case studies will be Konso Cultural Landscape in Ethiopia and the Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests in Kenya, UNESCO recognized cultural landscapes in Eastern Africa. The concept of human-environment interactions in cultural landscapes, sustainability and the concept of intersectionality (especially, for the gender dimension) guide the analysis. The analysis and understanding of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as ‘living’ and changing cultural landscapes will contribute to develop approaches to maintain their sustainable futures.


  • Intergenerational change analysis of landscape values and indigenous conservation practices
  • Human-environment interactions, and land use and livelihood transition analysis
  • Meta-analysis based on case studies to contribute to academic discourses and policy discussion towards sustainable development and landscape conservation
  • Mixed methods approach: qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis
Main Cooperation Partners

  • Dilla University
  • Kenyatta University
Main Funding Partners

The Volkswagen Foundation

Duration of the Project

2022 - 2026


  • Dr. Girma Kelboro Mensuro
  • Dr. Abiyot Legesse Kura
  • Dr. Eric Kioko
  • Dr. Asebe Regassa Debelo
  • Dr. Till Stellmacher
  • Yesim Pacal


Girma Kelboro Mensuro

Dr. Girma Kelboro Mensuro


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