Optimizing historic preservation under climate change: Decision support for cultural resource adaptation planning in national parks

Xiao, X., Seekamp, E., Eaton, M., Van der Burg, M.P., Fatorić, S., McCreary, A.
Created: 3/23/2020 -


Climate change poses great challenges for cultural resource management, particularly in coastal areas. Cultural resources, such as historic buildings, in coastal areas are vulnerable to climate impacts including inundation, deterioration, and destruction from sea-level rise and storm-related flooding and erosion. However, research that assesses the trade-offs between actions for protecting vulnerable and valuable cultural resources under budgetary constraints is limited. This study focused on developing a decision support model for managing historic buildings at Cape Lookout National Seashore. We designed the Optimal Preservation Decision Support (OptiPres) model to: (a) identify optimal, annual adaptation actions for historic buildings across a 30-year planning horizon, (b) quantify trade-offs between different actions and the timing of adaptation actions under constrained budgets, and (c) estimate the effectiveness of budget allocations on the resource value of historic buildings. Our analysis of the model suggests that: (1) funding allocation thresholds may exist for national parks to maintain the historical significance and use potential of historic buildings under climate change, (2) the quantitative assessment of trade-offs among alternative adaptation actions provides generalizable guidance for decision makers about the dynamics of their managed system, and (3) the OptiPres model can identify cost-efficient approaches to allocate funding to maintain the historical value of buildings vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Therefore, the OptiPres model, while not designed as a prescriptive decision tool, allows managers to understand the consequences of proposed adaptation actions. The OptiPres model can guide park managers to make cost-effective climate adaptation decisions for historic buildings more transparently and robustly.

Published On


Adaptation Phase
National / Federal
Regional / Subnational
State / Provincial
Tribal / First Nation
Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Disaster Risk Management
Land Use Planning
Landscape Architecture
Tourism / Recreation
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Reduce local climate or related change
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Initiate targeted research program
Create/enhance resources and tools
Governance and Policy
North America
United States

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