Historic preservation priorities for climate adaptation

Erin Seekamp, Sandra Fatorić, Allie McCreary

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Cultural heritage-specific research is scarce within the climate change literature and climate change policy documents, challenging climate adaptation efforts to minimize adverse impacts on cultural heritage. Engaging and assessing diverse stakeholders' values and integrating those with evidence-based knowledge is critical for timely, effective and transparent preservation and climate adaptation of coastal cultural heritage. This study assessed technical experts' and community groups' opinions about the importance of value-based prioritization considerations to provide more immediate guidance adaptation planning and decision making. The findings from four separate elicitation surveys demonstrated substantial consistency in value-based climate adaptation prioritization preferences for one type of vulnerable cultural heritage: historic buildings in coastal zones in the United States. In particular, the samples of cultural heritage professionals and members of community groups consistently rated spatial importance, uniqueness, and scientific value of historic buildings as very important considerations for climate adaptation prioritization decision-making. Also, consistently evaluated but of relatively low importance were considerations related to the cost of preservation and adaptation treatments, including previous investments. Few statistically significant differences were found among our samples in their perceptions of importance. These findings provide initial guidance to cultural heritage managers, particularly those with scarce financial resources to allocate for adapting coastal historic buildings, and demonstrate the need for continued development of approaches that provide rapid assessment of coastal heritage stakeholders' adaptation priorities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105180
Number of pages15
JournalOcean & Coastal Management
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Climate change
  • Cultural heritage management
  • Decision-making
  • Prioritization
  • Values

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