Creative Solutions to Preserving Our Cultural Heritage

  • Author: Diane L. Douglas
  • Topic: Heritage studies
  • Related Congress: 13th Congress, Dakar

In many regions of the world, our cultural heritage is at risk to impacts of
climate change, development, or natural degradation through time. Historic
villages, towns, roads, bridges, and ancient buried sites often lie in the path
of future roads, mines and industry. Others are being eroded by rising seas,
intensified storm systems, or buried by expanding dunes—the long-term effects
of climate change. Still others have fallen into disarray as a result of
age and lack of maintenance. Mitigating the loss of heritage resources to
climate change, development, or time can be accomplished in a multitude of
ways. Photographs, maps, and analyses of artifacts, building materials and
food remains can all be used to tell a part of the story of an ancient ruin.
Interviews with living ancestors can tell even more. These data bytes, photographs,
and reports can be used to create museum displays, educational
DVDs/videos, brochures, and books that provide a medium to pass the stories
on to future generations. At times when a site can not be avoided by a
project, and there is not adequate time to study the site, these mitigation
methods can be applied on sites located beyond the boundaries of the project.
Nearby sites threatened by climate change can have pre-disaster mitigation
measures implemented to protect them; a dilapidated historic building in
the town center can be restored; a nearby archaeological site can be excavated
and a public program developed around the excavation involving students
and interested members of the public. These types of creative mitigation
measures can result in the development of public/private partnerships
that help keep projects on schedule; result in the preservation of sites threatened
by climate change; and enhance public appreciation of heritage resources.

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