The cultural landscape of coffee in Tolima, Colombia: heritage assessment, sustainability and management
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to determine the basis for a management agenda for the Tolima Coffee Cultural Landscape (CCLT) in Colombia. To this end, a delimitation model has been developed. However, the approach taken to institute the agenda of the CCLT, as a comprehensive academic and policy-based theme, is based on the formulation of a social agenda that supports its construction. Design/methodology/approach A theoretical framework is proposed that addresses the sociocultural complexities of the Tolima cultural landscape. This is based on an ethnohistorical approach that elucidates the development of this landscape as a collective construction of pre-Hispanic origin. Therefore, this investigation has been perceived through the theoretical and conceptual framework of the cultural landscape concept and the unique historical and cultural phenomenon that help to define all landscapes. More specifically, the authors have demonstrated the close links that exist between nature and culture, requiring increasingly accurate methods in order to adapt the landscape definition to the specific Latin American context, rather than adhering to the institutional framework proposed by UNESCO. Findings The assessment methods currently in use support the interpretation of a set of qualitative and quantitative attributes inherent to the Tolima region. However, additional methods still remain similar to those of the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (CCLC) that has already been inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The CCLC is considered to be a representative landscape—or “type” landscape—that “mirrors” the CCLT. Taken as a whole, this theoretical construction combined with the official designation allows local communities to understand the spatial phenomena of the CCLT. This will have the effect of enabling communities at all levels, from local government to landholders and farmers, to authorize its existence and allow for its continuing development and governance. The additional approval for further academic research, combined with the totality of these elements, also has the added effect of empowering communities, their economic future and their cultural interests. Originality/value The management agenda that the authors are proposing may form the beginning of regional policy initiatives that reflect a positive strategy for highlighting the value of cultural heritage, thereby ensuring the protection of cultural properties and landscapes and allowing for a more sustainable environment and livelihood for its occupants.