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By Marta de la Torre

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See Tainter and Lucas () for a critical history and analysis of the significance concept, and Tomlan () for a collection of views appraising and criticizing the significance concept in the context of historic preservation in the United States. . The operational, applied context of this research is the model process for conservation planning used by the Getty Conservation Institute (see Figure ). This model, which is similar to others employed around the world by conservation agencies and professionals, draws on a collective body of knowledge and experience accumulated over decades of application.

Ideally, the sustainability principles will influence the planning model in several ways, at several stages. First, they constitute an ideal, which could shape the setting of project goals, the composition of the stakeholder group, the analysis of significance and management contexts, and the evaluation of project outcomes. The principles will have most direct impact, however, at the policy-setting stage: the principles would be designed to serve as tests, or criteria, against which the policies (and thus the actions that follow from them) can be judged.

A recent publication by several scholars and practitioners in the environmental field provides a good source of intelligence for addressing the decision-making challenges set forth in this paper (Sexton et al. ). Having identified critical issues and cases in environmental decision making, Sexton and colleagues evaluated stateof-the-art decision-making tools. The conclusion reached was that there are no hard-and-fast rules or procedures for making effective decisions. The goal of fostering integrated decision making requires a lot of experimentation and improvisation.

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