Climate change challenges cultural heritage management and preservation. Understanding the barriers that can impede preservation is of paramount importance, as is developing solutions that facilitate the planning and management of vulnerable cultural resources. Using online survey research, we elicited the opinions of diverse experts across southeastern United States, a region with cultural resources that are particularly vulnerable to flooding and erosion from storms and sea level rise. We asked experts to identify the greatest challenges facing cultural heritage policy and practice from coastal climate change threats, and to identify strategies and information needs to overcome those challenges. Using content analysis, we identified institutional, technical and financial barriers and needs. Findings revealed that the most salient barriers included the lack of processes and preservation guidelines for planning and implementing climate adaptation actions, as well as inadequate funding and limited knowledge about the intersection of climate change and cultural heritage. Experts perceived that principal needs to overcome identified barriers included increased research on climate adaptation strategies and impacts to cultural heritage characteristics from adaptation, as well as collaboration among diverse multi-level actors. This study can be used to set cultural heritage policy and research agendas at local, state, regional and national scales.
Today, cultural heritage planning and decision-making operate under considerable climate, political, and financial uncertainties and constraints. Consequently, decision-makers are often left making value-laden judgments of what to preserve, restore, and maintain in their best judgments, which can leave them open to criticism for not protecting the cultural resources most important to various and diverse stakeholder groups. Thus, a transparent and robust process to optimally maintain cultural heritage values for present and future generations is needed. We address this knowledge gap by developing a novel, transparent, and value-based measurement framework for assessing relative “historical significance” and “use potential” of diverse historic buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places (United States). Measures of historical significance include: the association of a building with the purpose of a NPS site's foundation, the current physical condition of a building, the building's historic character, and National Register listing criteria. Specific measures of use potential consider the importance of historic building's operational, third party, visitor, interpretative, and scientific uses. The application of the framework is presented using a subset of buildings located within two separately listed historic districts at Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina. The framework focuses on the current status of the cultural resource's significance and use potential while acknowledging that corresponding attributes, metrics and weights can change over time and should be regularly updated. It is hoped that the historical significance and use potential framework can assist the decision-makers and stakeholders, and better inform both the cultural heritage management and allocation prioritization for climate adaptation planning when it is applied in tandem with climate change vulnerability assessments.
The tool (framework) is intended to help managers deal with one aspect of historic preservation planning efforts: evaluating and assessing the relative historical significance and use potential of historic buildings. In this publication we (1) present an overview of the process we used to develop the measurement framework and (2) describe how the framework can be used as a guide for measuring the historical significance and use potential of buildings.
Ongoing collaboration with USGS researchers will further result in a decision support tool that combines the data from this framework with (1) data on the vulnerability of the buildings to future flooding from storm surge and sea level rise and (2) cost estimates for different types of adaptation strategies (such as elevating or moving buildings). Ultimately, the combined efforts can inform climate change planning efforts that seek to maximize cultural heritage preservation.
The primary purpose of this Strategy is to outline specific sub-strategies and recommendations to fulfill the stated adaptation goal and associated objectives (explained in Section 2). The overarching public purpose of the Strategy is to reduce the impacts of climate change through effective risk management. The Strategy is intended as a proactive approach in response to the findings of the vulnerability assessment conducted for the Metro-Boston Region. A primary planning recommendation of the Strategy is the integration of information about emerging climate change risks into current disaster planning systems and arrangements at the community and/or regional level, as appropriate. Such a strategy is urgently needed because any increase in the number or intensity of disasters due to climate change will adversely impact quality of life and economic development in the region. Ideally, the Strategy can significantly limit the adverse effect of climatic hazards on public health and safety, critical infrastructure and the built environment, and the region’s natural resources and ecosystems. This in turn will reduce the disruption of the local economy and lessen the costs of post-disaster response.