A Cultural Heritage Sector Approach to Assessing Climate Change Risk

09:00 Thursday 30 May

SS038 • OC228

Room S6


David Harkin (United Kingdom) 1; Mairi Davies (United Kingdom) 1; Emily Tracey (United Kingdom) 1

1 - Historic Environment Scotland

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has a strong legislative foundation from which it has planned an informed and pragmatic approach to recognising and understanding the risks, and opportunities, that a changing climate presents the historic environment with. This includes understanding the risk and impacts of climate change on our own estate of 336 Properties in Care of the Scottish Ministers. This estate includes iconic and internationally renowned monuments such as Edinburgh Castle and the Neolithic village, Skara Brae, in Orkney.

Our approach to identifying ‘at risk’ sites on our estate has been shaped by working in close partnership with other organisations, such as the British Geological Survey and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, both of which provided spatial natural hazard datasets for use in this project. The datasets contained information on susceptibility, probability and scale for natural hazards such as coastal erosion and flooding. By combining this data with spatial data pertaining to our own estate we have developed a screening tool for natural hazards that has been able to inform the most thorough risk assessment carried out to date on HES’ Properties in Care.

By screening for natural hazards we have been able to identify the properties we believe to be most at risk from future climate change, as the severity and occurrence rates of natural hazards, such as flooding, is intrinsically linked to the climate we experience. The results of this initial assessment are already helping to inform our conservation and maintenance strategies of the properties in our care. By building in climate change risk to these strategies, we are increasing the inherent resilience of the historic environment to cope with altering environmental and climatic conditions, helping to safeguard it for future generations. This collaborative project provided an opportunity for public sector bodies to bring together scientific data and technological innovation in order to devise a new methodology that aims to identify the effects of climate change on Scotland’s historic environment. The newly developed methodology can now be adopted by others looking to understand the risk on their own properties, with wide ranging applicability beyond just the heritage sector.