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Risk management for preservation of heritage values

This is an area that the Centre has considered to be important and interesting over a long period. We remain interested in researching decision making to retain important heritage features that make people want to visit them, such as historic authenticity or original art, or help in their appreciation, such as the patina of age.  Ill considered management action might threaten these important intrinsic values.

This poster (http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/5045/ ) set out an exciting area of potential research in the area of sustainable conservation of heritage, in order to start a dialogue with potential partners. It suggested that harm may be caused to our heritage by other social policy measures,which of themselves may be highly desirable (such as visitor safety or access for people with disabilities). It suggested that existing techniques of environmental impact analysis, risk assessment and risk management can readily be adapted to the field of heritage protection.

Three main objectives were discussed which were firstly to identify conflicts resulting from social policies, secondly to develop a holistic risk management tool and thirdly to provide practical information and guidelines to site owners, managers and policy makers. Essentially, our proposal was designed to find a means of achieving a suitable methodology for decision making by heritage managers. We expect such a project to produce a blueprint for a methodology which would find wide application by heritage site managers throughout Europe. It would focus attention on the need to be aware of the special needs and compromises that are necessary if heritage is to be properly accessed and protected.

This conference paper (http://www.arcchip.cz/w04/w04_ball.pdf) proposed that risk management techniques be investigated in the context of the preservation of cultural heritage. Furthermore, we suggested that the problems investigated should be defined by end users rather than by the (scientific) tools available. Research on preservation of European cultural heritage in particular at that time (2004) was seen as a perfect example whereby natural science research and technological innovations, together with social science research on the values and aspirations of the public, could be combined in order to improve decision making in that sector. However there was a heavy emphasis on what can be achieved by scientific techniques, and a notable shortage of projects dealing with the more difficult issues which may ultimately have greater relevance for those looking after the cultural heritage at the site level.

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