by Paul Taçon
In 2009, an additional component was added that involved field workshops in Australia in 2012, southern Africa in 2013 and again in Australia in 2014. The idea of this program was to bring together small groups of rock art specialists from countries in southern Africa and Australia, including traditional owners and managers of rock art sites, to discuss problems and challenges to rock art conservation on both continents. The workshops aimed to create a forum to learn from each other and examine work addressing challenges and common problems.
The aim of the Forum was to review the summary experiences of the work to date and focus on forward-looking strategies to address the key issues identified. It brought together an exceptional group of traditional owners, experts and managers directed at achieving these aims. The program included presentations, field inspections, meetings with traditional owners, discussions, and workshopping of key strategies. Participants were tasked with providing key input to the development of a strategic directions paper and to outline practical projects for training and collaboration initiatives.
Kakadu National Park, a World Heritage site in Australia, contains one of the world’s greatest concentrations of rock art. While around ve thousand sites have been recorded, it is believed that there could be 10,000 to 15,000 art sites in total. The paintings throughout the park tell a story of the changing climate, changing species and changing lifestyles of Aboriginal people possibly over a time span from 20,000 year ago to the present. This constitutes one of the longest historical records of any group of people in the world and is truly a treasure of humanity.