Last week a team of LDE scholars released a preliminary assessment of the impacts of climate change on cultural heritage in the Netherlands, analyzing for the first time the level of exposure to climate change hazards of more than 60.000 Dutch national monuments. Dr. Sandra Fatorić (TU Delft, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment), Dr. Martijn Manders (Leiden University, Faculty of Archaeology) and David Teruel (TU Delft, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences) hope their report stresses the importance of incorporating 'climate change risks into cultural heritage management and conservation in the Netherlands'.
Using the spatial data provided by the Cultural Heritage Agency (Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed), the Climate Impact Atlas (Klimaateffectatlas), the researchers analyzed the exposure of 63.389 national monuments to drought, heat, coastal and river flooding, and urban pluvial flooding. Cross referencing the different hazards that these monuments can be exposed to per province, the report provides a greater depth and understanding of the level of risks that the monuments possibly face. As such, this information can greatly help conservators, cultural heritage managers and governmental institutions create a better oversight of the necessities needed to protect and maintain the national monuments in their area. This is especially relevant as climate change hazards are yet to be incorporated into heritage management and conservation standards, regulations, or policies.
As the report is the first of its kind to assess the hazards of climate change on monuments, the researchers stress that it has only measured their potential exposure to these hazards or the 'monument’s presence in a place that could be adversely affected by a climate change hazard'. Consequently, further research is needed such as assessments of sensitivity and the adaptive capacity of monuments to climate change. Additionally, the report calls for a review of the existing categories in which Dutch heritage is classified. According to the researchers 'the category of archaeological sites', for instance, 'does not distinguish between inland, maritime and underwater archaeological sites'. New categories could help further narrow down the risks which specific monuments could face, and therefore help provide better solutions to them.
A new phase has been opened in the field of heritage conservation and management.