Following the deterioration events that Santa Laura and Humberstone suffered after their abandon, the Chilean state began working on measures in 1970 in order to protect and recognise this heritage while acknowledging the outstanding benefits the nitrate had back then on the country’s economy. The first measure was the declaration as Historical Monument by the National Monuments Council, which is the most important statute for safeguarding tangible heritage in the country. Since 2001, both sites are under the umbrella of the Saltpetre Museum Corporation, which has led various restauration works. Due to their outstanding value and unique character, Humberstone and Santa Lara were officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005.
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 Saltpetre Works bear witness to the development of an incomparable and particular set of skills, knowledge, culture, and urban planning associated with this industry.