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The new Heritage Conservation Act offers more flexibility and support while reducing bureaucracy

25. February 2019 - 12:11
Vana-Pääla mõisa peahoone. Foto: Reio Avaste
Vana-Pääla mõisa peahoone. Foto: Reio Avaste

Today, on the 20th of February the Riigikogu passed the new Heritage Conservation Act. The new legislation balances the rights and obligations of the state with those of the owners of cultural monuments, creating for the first time a compensation system for monument owners. From now on, the activities of the National Heritage Board will include both heritage conservation and museum fields. The legislation comes into force as of 1 May this year.

The aim of renewing the Heritage Conservation Act was to protect the tangible and intangible cultural heritage and to ensure the preservation and diversity of the Estonian cultural heritage. From now on, the state will compensate the owners of cultural monuments for the expenses arising from the requirements of the Heritage Conservation Act as well as research and heritage conservation supervision. 

„Monuments are best preserved when they are in use and to ensure that, we need a new and involving approach. A rich cultural heritage is a part of our identity and makes Estonia to be the Estonia we know. A valuable living environment improves the quality of life for all of us and also furthers tourism“, says the Minister of Culture Indrek Saar. „The new Heritage Conservation Act creates better opportunities for preserving our cultural wealth and the development of the cultural goods“, added the minister.

For the first time, the new legislation describes the principles of heritage conservation and regulates the acknowledgement, protection and preservation organisation of cultural monument, heritage conservation and archaeological sites. At the same time, more flexibility is given concerning decisions related to monuments, as well as working with them. Until now, the compiling of special conditions for heritage conservation was the expense of the monument owner, but becomes according to the legislation draft, the duty of the National Heritage Board and free of charge for the owner.

In the future the National Heritage Board will also develop the museum field, providing advice and training, as well as developing the museum’s information system MuIS. Also the board will organise the state’s collection policy and the creation of a joint depository of Estonian cultural heritage. A unified development of the cultural heritage field is possible in such fashion and the resources intended for the field can be used more flexibly and efficiently. 

The new Heritage Conservation Act comes into force on the 1st of May. The Heritage Conservation Act’s implementing agency remains as the National Heritage Board.


The full text of the legislation is available on the Riigikogu website. See also answers to Frequently asked questions.


Additional Information  

Liina Jänes

Ministry of Culture Cultural Heritage Adviser



6 282 381


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