Conservation Charities & Agencies combine forces to tackle the impact of climate change on the UK’s heritage

Seven UK organisations have announced a new partnership to help tackle the impact of climate change on historical sites and our cultural heritage, and to share expertise.
The new UK Heritage Adaptation Partnership will see stewards of historic sites across the country – Cadw, Department for Communities, English Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, Historic England, National Trust and National Trust for Scotland – pool research and expertise.
Working together, heritage organisations from across the four nations will explore critical issues in how our historic sites and collections can adapt to the increasing frequency and intensity of climate hazards such as extreme flooding and heat, building the resilience of our historic environment.
Dr Ingrid Samuel, Heritage & Placemaking Director at the National Trust said; “Until now heritage organisations have used different methods to address similar questions about understanding the risk presented by our changing climate. By working together we can look at putting in place a more consistent approach so that we make relevant comparisons and then adapt our approach as needed.”
Over the next two years, the group aims to:
· Develop a consistent baseline of climate hazard metrics for the heritage sector
· Create a shared understanding of site ‘vulnerability’
· Develop an approach for assessing climate risk on heritage assets
· Create a shared understanding of different adaptation options and pathways
· Identify and invest in areas of research to develop understanding around the impacts of certain climate hazards on heritage assets
· Communicate research and resources to the wider heritage sector and other relevant communities of interest
As Gwilym Hughes, Head of Cadw, explains; “Together we will be able to identify the impact of individual climate hazards on our buildings, archaeology, landscapes and places, and how these may be adapted to keep what is special about them from being lost to climate stresses. This may involve testing ideas that jar with traditional conservation principles – adaptation is very much an exploratory space and we are dealing with a world of uncertainty in terms of both the climate, and the impact on the places and sites we love and enjoy.”
Ruth Knight, Head of Climate and Sustainability at English Heritage added; “Change is inevitable, but we are seeing an acceleration of that change which challenges us to think differently. By working together, sharing research and evidence, we can adapt better, identifying the tipping points that require us to alter our approach in the management of our sites.”
Catherine Dewar, Historic England’s Climate Change Programme Director, said;  “As the government’s advisor on the historic environment in England, we look forward to working even closer with partners across the UK to share information about where and when hazards driven by climate change threaten vulnerable heritage, and use this collaboration and learning to boost effectiveness of climate resilience efforts.”
Ewan Hyslop, Head of Research and Climate Change at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), said; “Climate change is one of the most significant challenges for the management of the historic environment locally, nationally and internationally, and the resilience of these historic places has a significant role to play in supporting climate action and achieving net-zero targets.
“This new partnership of UK heritage organisations will enable us to work together more effectively to respond to the shared challenges of climate change for the benefit of heritage across the UK.”
Stuart Brooks, Head of Conservation & Policy at the National Trust for Scotland said; “We are very committed to this partnership and see it as an integral part of our ambition to improve the resilience of Scotland’s heritage in our care as well as providing valuable support and insight to many other organisations and individuals who manage Scotland’s heritage and face common challenges.
“This partnership will enable us to promote good practice as one voice on issues such as the value of traditional materials and skills, urgency for responses, and financial need for activity such as excavation, where for example archaeology is threatened by climate extremes such as heavy rain or drought, and to help protect our historic sites for generations to come.”


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