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The Burra Charter

The Burra Charter defines the basic principles and procedures to be followed when heritage places are undergoing conservation.

These principles and procedures can be applied to a monument, a courthouse, a garden, a shell midden, a rock art site, a cottage, a road, a mining or archaeological site, a whole district or region.

Although the Burra Charter was first written to guide practitioners such as archaeologists, architects, engineers and historians, it is also a useful document for others.

Anyone involved in the care of important places will make better, more informed decisions if they understand the Burra Charter.

People who use The Burra Charter include:

  • property owners and managers 
  • professionals involved with the care of heritage places 
  • administrators assessing applications for heritage approvals and grants, eg. in local government 
  • National Trusts and other community organisations

The Burra Charter Principles

The principles inherent in the Charter are:

  • There are places worth keeping because they enrich our lives - by helping us understand the past; by contributing to the richness of the present environment; and because we expect them to be of value to future generations.
  • The cultural significance of a place is embodied in its physical material (fabric), its setting and its contents; in its use; in the associated documents; and in its meaning to people through their use and associations with the place.
  • The cultural significance of a place, and other issues affecting its future, are best understood by a process of collecting and analysing information before making decisions.
  • Keeping accurate records about decisions and changes to the place helps in its care, management and interpretation.

The aims of The Burra Charter are to ensure that people involved in the conservation of heritage places:

  • Understand the place and its cultural significance, including its meaning to people, before making decisions about its future;
  • Involve the communities associated with the place;
  • Care for the culturally significant fabric and other significant attributes, taking into account of all aspects of significance;
  • Care for the place's setting;
  • Provide an appropriate use;
  • Provide security for the place;
  • Use available expertise;
  • Make records of the place and changes to it, and the reasons for decisions and actions; and
  • Interpret and present the place in a manner appropriate for its significance.

Copies of the Burra Charter are available to download at ICOMOS.

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