The Built and Archaeological Heritage Climate Change Sectoral Adaptation Plan
Projected changes to the Irish climate will have implications for our built and archaeological heritage. These changes may be immediate or cumulative and we must be prepared to adapt to events which may include:
- Warmer, wetter winters
- Hotter, drier summers
- Increasingly intense and frequent storms
- Rising sea levels
- Coastal erosion
- Increased flooding
Such climate changes can be expected to give rise to structural damage to monuments and historic properties, the undermining of structures, loss of ground adjacent to structures, exposure and erosion of archaeological sites, and collapse of unstable masonry elements.
Additional slow-onset risks identified include the loss of historic landscape features, decay of building fabric caused by increased saturation, microbiological growth to interiors and contents and increased corrosion of metal elements. A further threat is posed by maladaptation – the inadvertent loss or damage to heritage structures and sites during adaptation works by others.
In order to add robustness and to ensure relevance in an Irish context, the development of the Adaptation Plan has incorporated consultation with experts, stakeholders and the public throughout the process of its creation.
A large number of individuals and organisations were consulted during the development of the Plan-
- Three Climate Change Advisory Group (CCAG) meetings, attended by a group of experts representing local authorities, non-governmental heritage organisations, professional bodies and other key stakeholders convened by the Department to advise on climate change adaptation
- Two stakeholder workshops organised by the team to focus on prioritising climate change impacts
- Series of meetings with individual organisations and bodies that will likely have a strategic interest in the implementation of the adaptation plan
- Public Consultation (May-June 2019)
Scope of the Built and Archaeological Heritage Adaptation Plan
The Plan identifies 5 Goals with associated Objectives (48 Actions have also been identified to meet those Objectives):
- Improve understanding of the heritage resource and its vulnerability to climate change impacts
- Develop and mainstream sustainable policies and plans for climate change adaptation of built and archaeological heritage
- Conserve Ireland’s heritage for future generations
- Communicate and transfer knowledge
- Exploit the opportunities for built and archaeological heritage to demonstrate value and secure resources.
Priority actions have been identified in the Plan, including:
- Evaluate the nature and extent of threats to heritage sites
- Assess the heritage values and cultural significance of places and structures
- Develop an evidence-based approach to managing the effects of climate change
- Develop risk preparedness & resilience
- Develop capacity at all levels
- Improve maintenance practices for buildings
- Ensure the availability of the correct skills and materials to maintain, repair and adapt historic structures and sites
- Prevent poor adaptation practices and works
- Augment research into climate change and its effects on built and archaeological heritage
The Plan will be reviewed regularly in terms of progress of its implementation and the Department’s Climate Change Advisory Group of expert stakeholders will continue to meet regularly to oversee that implementation.