As climate change, particularly flooding, threatens cultural sites, conservationists and researchers are wondering whether these iconic sites should be carefully restored or given the opportunity to adapt and “transform”. A study of this issue was published in the journal Climatic Change.
The traditional paradigm of conservation is the idea of static conservation. This means the materials remain unbreakable, and experts defend the values identified at the time they were identified, said Erin Sickamp, the first author of the paper to raise these issues and a professor at North Carolina State University.
However, it is impossible to manage all heritage sites and property through continuous adaptation, improvement, reconstruction due to the scale of the projected climatic impacts.
This document was co-authored by Eugene Joe, Coordinator of the International Research Center for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property.
The experts presented two ideas on how the transformation of cultural properties might occur: adaptively in response to the impacts of climate change, or before expected or projected impacts.
They argue that some cultural symbols “severely affected” by events associated with climate change such as floods may remain unrepaired to serve as a “memory” of the event.
On other occasions, they argued that some landmarks at risk of climate change should be able to “transform” when the cost of maintaining a landmark is too high.
How much effort should it take to make Venice look like Venice, even though it faces rising sea levels that threaten the city with more frequent extreme flooding, the authors of the article ask.
Individuals whose heritage is at risk and who benefit from these sites as tourism sites should participate in discussions about change and how the conservation of the values associated with these sites should look like.
Erin Sickamp, first article author and professor at North Carolina State University
According to experts, their ideas for transformation were inspired by the concept of sustainability in ecology, according to which the landscape can absorb the change in response to disruption, and the population moves to a “new state” or reorganizes.