What’s a better souvenir from a trip: that sand-dollar foraged from a hidden beach, or the memory of hours spent gazing out at the ocean, your loved ones within reach? If you believe recent research from Britain’s National Trust, a conservation organization, it’s those memory caches that have real cachet.

Nino Strachey oversaw the project, dubbed Places That Make Us—an ambitious attempt to unpack the idea of topophilia, or place attachment, the emotional bond between someone and somewhere. It’s no surprise that the National Trust would fund such research, given that its mission is protecting many of Britain’s historic places to visit, such as parks and stately homes. But Strachey stresses that the origins of this project lie with UNESCO, and its decade-old manifesto: the Declaration of the Spirit of Place. “We’re a heritage body, so we do everything according to that declaration, which aims to preserve the physical and spiritual elements that give meaning, value, emotion and mystery to a place, whether those attributes are tangible, or intangible,” she says.

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