In 1989, the Stockholm cemetery committee received an inquiry as to whether they wanted to nominate Skogskyrkogården to UNESCO's World Heritage List. The inquiry was unique, as a World Heritage Site comprises cultural or natural heritage that is considered to be of great importance to humanity. A world heritage can be a place, a location, an environment or an object that bears unique witness to the history of the world or humankind.
No one had imagined that something from the twentieth century would be considered worthy of such an accolade. The additional fact that this something was a cemetery added to the remarkable nature of it all. And what would be the reaction if Skogskyrkogården was named a World Heritage rather than another prominent cemetery such as Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC or Père Lachaise in Paris?
The sceptics were soon silenced. In 1994, the World Heritage Committee decided to make Skogskyrkogården number 558 on the World Heritage List. This made it only the second cultural heritage site from the twentieth century. All other cultural heritage sites are considerably older.
Any property with a prestigious inscription on the World Heritage List is guaranteed its protection and conservation for all time.
Working with World Heritage
Skogskyrkogården's World Heritage Council reviews, evaluates and ensures the development of the world heritage in line with UNESCO's intentions.
The World Heritage Council is also referred to as the administrative council. The council includes representatives from Stockholm County Council, Stockholm City Museum and the Cemeteries Administration of the City of Stockholm. The council meets four times a year. Common issues raised at council meetings include how to make the world heritage available to the public, current changes in operations, planned maintenance measures and the so-called management plan, which is being revised. The council is tasked with initiating development to strengthen the world heritage.
The council is not empowered with the concerned agency's authority to make decisions in issues concerning Skogskyrkogården. Rather the council is an important advisory body for consultation before decisions.
Current issues in 2008 include rejuvenation of the pine forest, modernisation of the Woodland Crematorium, a new programme for signposting the cemetery, maintenance measures around the Woodland Chapel, guide activities and a new website for the world heritage site.