Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 17.COM 7.B.41

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Austria, Czechia, Germany, Latvia, Poland and Spain have nominated Timber rafting (No. 01866) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Timber rafting in Austria, Czechia, Germany, Latvia, Poland and Spain originated in the Middle Ages, when rafts were used to transport wood, goods and people using natural water flows. In the past, rafters traveling to remote destinations spent weeks living and working together on their raft. As a result, a community sharing the knowledge, skills, techniques and values of making and navigating timber rafts emerged. The tradition has been cultivated for generations and remains strong thanks to continuous oral communication, observation and participation, including through youth camps, local schools, festivals and workshops. Measuring up to 600 meters long, 50 meters wide and 2 meters high, today timber rafts are mainly used for navigating rivers. However, the building process remains the same and includes selecting the wood, transporting it to the river, and connecting the trunks to form rafts. Timber rafting fosters collaboration and social cohesion within and among participating communities, and is now open to practitioners of all ages, genders and social and cultural backgrounds. The protection of water and ecological systems and the sustainable use of wood are deeply rooted in the practice, and the regular and lively experience-sharing enriches the heritage and promotes common values and cultural exchange across borders.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   Timber rafting refers to the traditional knowledge and skills related to the construction and navigation of timber rafts on midland waters. The practice includes constructing the rafts, transporting logs, and knowledge of nature. The bearers of the element involve timber rafters who are organized in associations. The element involves teams of practitioners with various roles, including foremen, brake makers, watchman and rowers. While the element was previously dominated by men, the roles have evolved and the file and video describe the participation of women. The knowledge and skills are transmitted by local associations through formal and informal ways. These include workshops, courses and festivities. The element's social function lies in fostering cooperation and social cohesion. It helps to shape a strong sense of community and highlight the significance of teamwork and cooperation. The element is based on the relationship between people and nature, and highlights the importance of wood as a raw material and its sustainable uses. As such, the element is directly associated with sustainable development.

R.2:   At the local level, inscription will increase knowledge of ancient techniques, crafts practised by communities and rituals adapted to the environment. At the national level, it will raise awareness of the 2003 Convention, and raise awareness about how intangible cultural heritage is closely linked to the sustainable use of natural resources. At the international level, inscription will promote links between tangible and intangible cultural heritage and highlight the role of intangible cultural heritage as an integral element of sustainable development in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Inscription will further encourage dialogue between older and younger generations, help to disseminate knowledge of craftsmanship and popularize the tradition within families, associations and the public.

R.3:   The communities' past and current efforts to ensure the element's viability include efforts of transmitting the knowledge, skills and values to younger generations through exhibitions, club meetings, distribution of information materials, and the efforts of the associations. The States Parties' efforts involved the inclusion of the element in national inventories, providing grants to finance safeguarding measures, presenting the element in numerous museum collections, scientific research, publications, and films. Safeguarding measures were proposed by each submitting State to sustain the element's viability and transmission and to enhance and promote the element internationally and locally. The nomination explains how each State will support the proposed measures by offering grant programmes and funds from public (municipal and state) budgets. The safeguarding measures were proposed by the communities of the rafters themselves.

R.4:   The nomination file was prepared firstly through discussions at the general assembly of the International Association of Timber Raftsmen in 2010. International consultations were held among the representatives of timber rafters from the submitting States between 2018 and 2020. The submitting States then formed a working group to prepare the nomination, coordinate the process and consult experts from relevant institutions and NGOs through several meetings. At the national levels, working subgroups which comprised bearers of the element were established to draft the nomination file. The file includes various letters of consent from associations, individuals, national, regional, and local institutions, and NGOs.

R.5:   The element is included in the inventories of all the submitting States. Information about the inventories of the submitting States, including the organizations responsible for the updating, updating frequency and reference numbers, were provided in the file. The file explains the processes through which the element was identified and defined in the inventory of each State, and the roles of the communities, groups and individuals concerned in the inventorying processes.

  1. Decides to inscribe Timber rafting on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the States Parties for an exemplary joint nomination process involving the strong participation of the communities and demonstrating the effectiveness of communities from different countries working together to safeguard intangible cultural heritage;
  3. Further commends the States Parties for demonstrating close collaboration in the preparation of a multinational nomination, in line with the principles of international cooperation and the promotion of mutual understanding of the Convention.