Cultural heritage around the globe suffers from wars, natural disasters and human negligence. The importance of cultural heritage documentation is well recognized and there is an increasing pressure to document our heritage both nationally and internationally. This has alerted international organizations to the need for issuing guidelines describing the standards for documentation.
Charters, resolutions and declarations by international organisations underline the importance of documentation of cultural heritage for the purposes of conservation works, management, appraisal, assessment of the structural condition, archiving, publication and research. Important ones include the International Council on Monuments and Sites, ICOMOS and UNESCO, including the famous Venice Charter, The International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites, 1964, (UNESCO, 2005).
Only recently new nominated WH sites are proposed with some cartographic information included in the nomination file request. Terrestrial, aerial or satellite imagery are rarely included. The problem is even worst when we consider World Heritage sites nominated some years ago. Most of them they do not have proper cartography with detailed buffer zones indicated, etc.
Recent high resolutions satellite imagery provides the means to easily map areas in large scales. Archive map and photographs are locked. Although UNESCO provides now some minor specifications these specifications are not at all considered for old inscribed sites.
Only if these detailed specifications are provided as well as about how remotely sensed data can be used to derive such cartography can the UNESCO request to the countries to provide improved cartography for the UNESCO World Heritage database.
Earth Observation can highly accelerate the documentation of CH, while engaging multi-disciplinary societies in EO/CH activities, not previously interested. A quick search at the Google Trends reveal the simple fact that the terms “cultural heritage” and “cartography” are much more frequently used by the public than the more technical and less popular term “earth observation”.