Acknowledging the progressive deterioration that Santa Laura and Humberstone suffered after their abandonment and their great value as a testimony of the nitrate boom in Chile, in 1970 the Chilean state began working on measures to protect and recognize this heritage. The first one was their declaration as a Historical Monument by the National Monuments Council, which is the most important statute for safeguarding tangible heritage in the country. From 2001, both sites are under the umbrella of the Saltpeter Museum Corporation, which has led various restoration works. Four years later, in 2005, Humberstone and Santa Laura entered the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The main criteria used to define these sites’ Outstanding Universal Value relate to both their importance for the nitrate industry in the world, and their contribution to Chile’s economy. Besides, these Saltpeter Works bear witness to the development of a particular set of skills, knowledge, culture and urban planning associated with this industry.