Interpretation of natural and historic heritage is as old as man. Shamans, minstrels, old story-tellers and other social figures of ancient communities handed down orally, from generation to generation, the history and culture of their people. Before books and modern story-recording systems appeared, such oral traditions were fundamental to the survival and evolution of culture.
In a modern context, interpretation describes communicational activities used in order to develop the comprehension and experience of protected areas, museums, historic or archaeological sites, aquariums, etc. Freeman Tilden gave the following definition of interpretation:
“Interpretation is an educational activity which aims to reveal meanings and relationships through the use of original objects, by firsthand experience, and by illustrative media, rather than simply to communicate factual information.”
The Italian association INEA originates from professionals working in the environment, who are aware of the importance (that) education and communication have in the protection of natural, historic, archaeological, and landscape heritage.
Educating and communicating effectively, at any level, and for a growing public, is today one of the most important aspects of any strategies directed to the protection of the territory.
Protected areas, historic and archaeological sites, museums, and all that forms the management of natural and cultural heritage increasingly need to be provided with structures, programmes and personnel, capable of taking up the modern challenges of communication in the field of the protection of resources.
In this context, it is vital to recognize and appreciate the decisive role of the professionals of communication. Such a role has to be defined in all its aspects and relationships with the other disciplines and professionals working for the protection of territory.
The association INEA intends to pursuit such crucial needs . It states in the by-laws its goals, ethics and tasks.