Adapting to climate change — expert group proposes fresh approach to the management of our Historic Environment

Friday 14 September 2018

  • Bath Rock Shelter © Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales

  • Dinas Dinlle © Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales

  • Glantowy Fawr © Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales

A group of experts brought together to advise on how to manage some of Wales’ most iconic historic sites in the light of climate change is proposing a fresh approach, based on the need to adapt to the new reality. They are seeking feedback and engagement on their plan. 

The Historic Environment Group is launching a consultation on their new Historic Environment and Climate Change: Sector Adaptation Plan. 

This outlines how the historic environment sector in Wales should address the challenge of climate change.

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “We have to re-think the way we manage the historic environment in Wales to respond to the threats of climate change.  While we are taking steps to limit climate change, we must also adapt to the changes which are already happening as a result of historic and ongoing emissions. I’d like to thank the Historic Environment Group for this plan to help raise awareness of the issues and would urge those in the sector to respond to this important consultation and to share experiences and ideas.”

Some of Wales’ most iconic sites are threatened by warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns and more frequent extreme weather events. So those responsible for managing these sites must re-think the way they have done things in the past. There is a need to encourage collaboration and action across all sectors that will improve understanding, build adaptive capacity and increase the resilience of the historic environment.

Those are the key conclusions of an expert working group set up to advise the Welsh Government on how to manage sites as diverse as Dinas Dinlle Hillfort near Caernarfon, the Bathrock Shelter in Aberystwyth, and the Waen Fignen Felen Mesolithic site in the Brecon Beacons.

Chair of the Historic Environment Group Climate Change Sub Group, Jill Bullen said: “Many of those managing these very important sites are already thinking deeply about climate change and its implications on their work. We have tried to learn from their expertise and share their experience and lessons learned more widely” 

The adaptation plan highlights a number of case studies where this new approach is already being developed. At the Waun y Fignen Felen hunting site in the Brecon Beacons valuable archaeological evidence is being lost due to the drying out of a bog. Here, favourable hydrology is being restored by rewetting the bog to conserve and enhance biodiversity and the archaeological values of the site.

At Dinas Dinlle hillfort, near Caernarfon, the western side of the site is being washed away by the sea. While natural erosion, enhanced by climate change, is accepted as part of the management of the site, public access is causing increased erosion. Here wooden pathways to control erosion, a fence constructed along the edge and other footpath erosion repairs have been undertaken. New research is underway led by a team of archaeologists, surveyors, geographers and scientists from the European-funded CHERISH project.

The group are looking for people working within the sector, within other sectors and anyone else who has suggestions, to take part in the consultation.  

The draft plan and consultation questions can be found on the Historic Environment Group page on the Cadw website. The consultation will close on 7th December.

cadw.gov.wales/about/partnershipsandprojects/partners/histenvgroup/climatechange