Conserving conservation areas in the Achterhoek: A case-study research into the active roles of the conservation areas in the Achterhoek in a time of decreasing population

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Here, conservation areas are connected to population decline. The research question was “How can conservation areas be used as an effective way to counter population decline or its effects in the Achterhoek region, taking account of the possible active roles of heritage?”. First, the history of conservation areas and heritage policy in the region was outlined, to provide context. In order to understand what happens with heritage in the Achterhoek, every conservation area was visited, noting the current protections. Then four active roles were inspected in Bredevoort, Bronkhorst and Mallumse Molen: seedbed, totem pole, billboard and meeting place. Through interviews and analyses of policy documents, the active roles that were planned for and the active roles they appeared to have became clear. While not every role was planned for strongly, all four could be found on location. The strongest aspect of the roles that weren’t planned for was the influence of local actors. Locals and businesses were motivated by their own liveability and the idea that visitors would come as well. With the evidence, the possible effectivity of these places was noted when considering it as a collection of policy instruments able to acknowledge the symbolic value to targeted groups.
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