Landscape Futures and the Challenge of Change: Towards Integrated Cultural/Natural Heritage Decision Making

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Geography

Abstract

In coming decades, the need to adapt to and mitigate accelerated environmental change will require heritage and landscape managers to make difficult decisions about how to manage assets and allocate resources. The assertion that heritage assets are irreplaceable and that heritage is a 'non-renewable resource' has underpinned a commitment by the heritage sector to protect assets from cultural and biophysical processes that may cause damage or loss of historic fabric. UK and international heritage stakeholders now appreciate that, in some contexts, promises of continued protection may be unsustainable. The sector is beginning to consider how to respond when change is inevitable, or when conservation at current levels is not feasible. New strategies are required for sensitive, proactive management of heritage transformations, particularly in vulnerable coastal landscapes and for assets already in an advanced state of decline.

The Landscape Futures and the Challenge of Change project (LFCC) responds directly to the challenge that accelerated climate change poses for the natural and cultural heritage sector. It draws on the AHRC-funded Heritage Futures research programme's innovative approaches to cross-sectoral knowledge exchange, and on programme findings which identified barriers to the effective management of change. Heritage Futures research also found, however, that shifting attention from the 'loss' of discrete heritage assets to focus on their broader landscape context may be a way to encourage more creative and confident decision making. Emphasis on the risk posed to an individual asset or feature can block the ability to see patterns of change in a wider context, and in wider temporal scales. A landscape approach, which understands cultural heritage assets as part of continually changing ecological and geophysical systems, has a key part to play in supporting a transition to more integrated and adaptive management of heritage and land assets.

The project aims to apply these findings and approaches to the development of a new decision support framework for cultural and natural heritage conservation management planning in the UK. Working collaboratively with the National Trust, Historic England and Natural England (and in consultation with a wider network of practitioners) the framework will deliver three key outcomes for landscape and heritage managers: (1) consistency in interpretation of relevant regulations and guidance, (2) confidence in making the decision to manage for change, and (3) capability in devolving decision making to local managers and inspectors. The project will develop and disseminate a new model for heritage decision making and resource the UK heritage sector to engage with long term thinking and respond to challenges more effectively and creatively. In doing so, it will show how the research undertaken as part of the Heritage Futures research programme is directly applicable to a specific set of practical problems for the sector. The project will have wide reaching significance for natural and cultural heritage research, policy-making and practice in the UK and internationally, by developing an approach that supports decision making for thriving cultural-ecological landscapes, where human and natural histories are understood as conjoined and complementary.

Planned Impact

This project brings together experienced academic researchers, national policy makers and one of the largest landowners and managers of natural and cultural assets in England to co-create an approach that works for them. The primary benefit will be targeted support for those responsible for managing landscapes and heritage assets, providing them with consistency, confidence and enhanced capability in making decisions about heritage transformations. The engagement of senior representatives of Historic England and the National Trust as IRO co-investigators in the project, and the co-design and co-delivery of activities, ensures the thorough engagement of these national organisations, and makes certain that the outputs will embedded in the future delivery of HE and NT work. Natural England's involvement as a project partner will insure integration with policy and practice across historic and natural environment contexts. In addition to benefiting the stakeholders discussed below, the project will serve as a model for collaborative and co-created research impact activity that delivers benefits directly to policy makers, regulators and decision makers.

Three stakeholder groups will benefit from this project: (1) the regulators, decision makers and asset managers directly involved in delivering the project; (2) a wider group of regulators, decision makers and asset managers who will be engaged in the project and have access to outputs, and; (3) the public, who will benefit from improved, sustainable cultural and natural heritage decision making. In the first instance, this project will benefit practitioners and asset managers currently grappling with the challenge of long term planning for changing landscapes, and the natural and cultural heritage assets within them. The first phase of the project will involve the creation of a LFCC practitioner network, which will expand as the project engages interested practitioners via web-consultation and dissemination activities. Engaged stakeholders will include: Historic Environment Scotland; English Heritage; CADW; Northern Ireland Historic Environment Division/Department for Communities; National Trust Scotland; and the Forestry Commission (as well as Local Authorities and major land managers). Outputs will be shared with stakeholders and individual practitioners via network communication channels (website, social media) and at the final event and webinar. Targeted dissemination will focus on major UK user groups (national and local government, major land owners) and UK and international networks. The Landscape Decision Programme will provide an enhanced pathway to impact, particularly through the planned workshop events focused on WP3, "Towards New Thinking & Community", which aims to create a transdisciplinary community of researchers linked to those who need to make decisions about land use and land assets. LFCC involvement in programme activities will make a contribution to building new relationships and generating new ways of thinking.

The project also makes a contribution to emerging international conversations about managing landscape change for natural and cultural value. The ICOMOS 'Future of Our Pasts' climate change report flags the importance of including cultural heritage in decision making about the future of our environment, and also highlights the need for approaches that engage proactively and creatively with loss. The IUCN has convened a discussion on the role of heritage and biodiversity in World Heritage Site management. Tools that combine consideration of natural and cultural heritage and support decision making at a landscape scale are of interest to these organisations and their networks. The research team is already engaged with both organisations on these issues and the final dissemination event/webinar and printed and online outputs provide pathways to impact on these beneficiaries (both ICOMOS and IUCN were partners on the Heritage Futures project).
 
Description Within the heritage sector there is widespread recognition that the accelerating effects of climate change will force a reconsideration of the care of at-risk places and properties. New methods are being developed to identify and measure future threats and hazards: as an outcome of these processes, it will be possible to maintain and protect some at-risk heritage features, but for some assets at the 'too tough to save' end of the spectrum it may be necessary to manage processes of decline and transformation. This will not be easy. Applied strategies for managing this kind of change are currently limited, and heritage policy is not designed to address the situation the sector now finds itself in.

The Landscape Futures and the Challenge of Change project set out to address this situation, and to equip heritage sector with (1) consistency in interpretation of relevant regulation, (2) confidence in making the decision to manage for change, (3) and capability in devolving decision making to local managers and inspectors. The project started in February 2020 and ran until January 2022, funded as an Impact and Engagement Follow-on from the Heritage Futures project, as part of the UKRI Landscape Decisions Programme. The project was led by Professor Caitlin DeSilvey (University of Exeter), with Professor Rodney Harrison (UCL), Dr Hannah Fluck (Historic England), Professor Rosie Hails and Dr Ingrid Samuel (National Trust) as Co-Investigators, supported by Research Associates Amber Blundell and Harald Fredheim. Practitioners and decision-makers from the National Trust, Historic England, Natural England and other relevant agencies and organisations worked collaboratively with academics over the course of the project.

The initial aim to produce a decision-support framework was adapted over the course of the project to focus on the co-creation of a new conceptual and practical approach for proactively and iteratively managing heritage transformations: adaptive release: In a series of workshops, heritage practitioners identified opportunities and barriers related to integrated, adaptive management of risk and loss, and contributed to the development of adaptive release as a potential way forward. Workshop participants praised the project's conception of adaptive release as a "potentially game changing piece of work" that will "help us [the heritage sector] to make better, more effective and more sustainable decisions".
Exploitation Route Historic England and the National Trust are convening a UK-wide network (Heritage Lost + Found) to draw in cross-sectoral perspectives towards the testing and development of the "adaptive release" concept. The network will encourage open discussion and debate about ongoing and planned management practices, share learnings and case studies, and develop tools for navigating heritage change proactively, collaboratively and sustainably. Historic England is also engaged in internal discussion about possible amendments to policy to enable the approaches developed on the project, and both the National Trust and the Environment Agency are identifying sites to be used as adaptive release test cases.
Sectors Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://www.exeter.ac.uk/research/esi/research/projects/landscape-futures/
 
Description Within the heritage sector there is widespread recognition that the accelerating effects of climate change will force a reconsideration of the care of at-risk places and properties. New methods are being developed to identify and measure future threats and hazards: as an outcome of these processes, it will be possible to maintain and protect some at-risk heritage features, but for some assets at the 'too tough to save' end of the spectrum it may be necessary to manage processes of decline and transformation. This will not be easy. Applied strategies for managing this kind of change are currently limited, and heritage policy is not designed to address the situation the sector now finds itself in. The Landscape Futures and the Challenge of Change project set out to address this situation, and to equip heritage sector with (1) consistency in interpretation of relevant regulation, (2) confidence in making the decision to manage for change, (3) and capability in devolving decision making to local managers and inspectors. The initial aim to produce a decision-support framework was adapted over the course of the project to focus on the co-creation of a new conceptual and practical approach for proactively and iteratively managing heritage transformations: adaptive release. In a series of workshops, heritage practitioners identified opportunities and barriers related to integrated, adaptive management of risk and loss, and contributed to the development of adaptive release as a potential way forward. Workshop participants praised the project's conception of adaptive release as a "potentially game changing piece of work" that will "help us [the heritage sector] to make better, more effective and more sustainable decisions". Adaptive release is currently being explored by the IRO investigators on the project (from the National Trust and Historic England) to identify how it might apply in different contexts and to establish criteria that would need to be met to prompt its consideration. Applied examples will help refine the concept and illustrate points of tension with existing policy and regulatory frameworks. It is hoped that understanding and acceptance of change at challenging sites will be improved through proactive and iterative engagement with communities and stakeholders, but this also needs to be demonstrated. Work is underway within the National Trust and the Environment Agency to identify a selection of at-risk assets where adaptive release can be trialled, which will include establishing a series of tests for adoption of the approach. No site will be piloted without first consulting with the relevant authorities and local communities. Historic England has established an online network in the Heritage Workspace, Heritage Lost & Found, to encourage dialogue and debate about new approaches (including AR) and to share information about relevant projects and initiatives. Internal discussions are also being held within the Historic England Strategy and Listing team to identify opportunities to include the adaptive release approach in pending amendments to policy and legislation, and in revisions to Conservation Principles.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Inclusion in Historic England 2022 Climate Change Adaptation Report
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact Inclusion of project in Historic England Climate Change Adaptation Report, Feb 2022 --project cited in UK climate adaptation third round reporting as progress against key goal in 2016 Climate Adaptation Plan-- 5.6 Develop an approach for dealing with inevitable change, including loss "The AHRC-funded Landscape Futures research project has helped establish a network to support sector engagement with loss of heritage assets." (24) "UKRI-funded research led by the University of Exeter (Landscape Futures and the Challenge of Change) and an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Programme PhD co-supervised by Historic England and University of Exeter have been investigating ways to manage transformative change and loss of heritage assets. This work will be the foundation of ongoing collaboration between the National Trust, English Heritage Trust and Historic England to develop practical frameworks to address this sensitive topic."
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/climate-adaption-reporting-third-round-historic-england-a...
 
Description Inclusion in Historic Environment Forum's COP26 Task Group Report
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to new or Improved professional practice
Impact As the world turns its eyes to COP26 in Glasgow, Heritage Responds highlights the positive contribution heritage organisations and their partners are making to the climate change debate and the actions needed to adapt to a changing world. The work is the culmination of six months of collaboration by the members of the Historic Environment Forum COP26 Task Group and showcases how the sector is responding to Climate Change, including investment in traditional low-carbon building adaptation techniques, nature-based solutions to mitigate the future impact of Climate Change, and renewed efforts to increase the lifespan of heritage assets and save the embodied carbon which might otherwise be sacrificed in demolition, new construction or poor upkeep. Alongside the new report, the Historic Environment Forum in collaboration with Historic England has also launched a new Heritage Responds Climate Change Story Map, a geographical mapping of the key case studies demonstrating how the heritage sector is acting to address climate change - and how heritage is part of the solution to climate change.
URL https://historicenvironmentforum.org.uk/hef-activities/archive-and-resources/heritage-responds/
 
Description Inclusion in National Trust Research Priority Topics 2021-2024
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to new or Improved professional practice
Impact Research priority citation of approach developed on the project: "Over the next three years we will prioritise research on: • Shifting conservation paradigms: co-developing and trialling adaptive approaches to conservation challenges, focussing on (i) securing multiple benefits from land management despite locked-in environmental change & (ii) adaptive release approaches for making decisions on the future of assets in the face of inevitable change such as coastal erosion" (6)
 
Description UKRI Policy Support Fund - Policy@Exeter Initiative (Project: Applying adaptive release in heritage management of flood and coastal erosion risk)
Amount £9,750 (GBP)
Organisation United Kingdom Research and Innovation 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2022 
End 03/2022
 
Description Embedded collaboration in research team and project workshops 
Organisation English Heritage
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution This project brought together experienced academic researchers, national policy makers and one of the largest landowners and managers of natural and cultural assets in England to co-create an approach that works for them. The engagement of senior representatives of Historic England and the National Trust as IRO co-investigators in the project, and the co-design and co-delivery of activities, ensured the thorough engagement of these national organisations, and made certain that the outputs will be embedded in the future delivery of HE and NT work. Natural England's involvement as a project partner enabled integration with policy and practice across historic and natural environment contexts. Other agencies and organisations engaged through the workshop activity include English Heritage Trust, the Environment Agency, Forestry England, Forestry Commission England, and the South Downs National Park Authority. The project serves as successful model for collaborative and co-created research impact activity that delivers benefits directly to policy makers, regulators and decision makers.
Collaborator Contribution IRO Co-Is were were embedded in the research team--see above. Other agencies and organisations participated in the on-line workshops and reviewed project outputs to offer feedback prior to their publication.
Impact All outputs were co-produced with partners/IRO co-investigators.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Embedded collaboration in research team and project workshops 
Organisation Forestry Commission
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This project brought together experienced academic researchers, national policy makers and one of the largest landowners and managers of natural and cultural assets in England to co-create an approach that works for them. The engagement of senior representatives of Historic England and the National Trust as IRO co-investigators in the project, and the co-design and co-delivery of activities, ensured the thorough engagement of these national organisations, and made certain that the outputs will be embedded in the future delivery of HE and NT work. Natural England's involvement as a project partner enabled integration with policy and practice across historic and natural environment contexts. Other agencies and organisations engaged through the workshop activity include English Heritage Trust, the Environment Agency, Forestry England, Forestry Commission England, and the South Downs National Park Authority. The project serves as successful model for collaborative and co-created research impact activity that delivers benefits directly to policy makers, regulators and decision makers.
Collaborator Contribution IRO Co-Is were were embedded in the research team--see above. Other agencies and organisations participated in the on-line workshops and reviewed project outputs to offer feedback prior to their publication.
Impact All outputs were co-produced with partners/IRO co-investigators.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Embedded collaboration in research team and project workshops 
Organisation Historic England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This project brought together experienced academic researchers, national policy makers and one of the largest landowners and managers of natural and cultural assets in England to co-create an approach that works for them. The engagement of senior representatives of Historic England and the National Trust as IRO co-investigators in the project, and the co-design and co-delivery of activities, ensured the thorough engagement of these national organisations, and made certain that the outputs will be embedded in the future delivery of HE and NT work. Natural England's involvement as a project partner enabled integration with policy and practice across historic and natural environment contexts. Other agencies and organisations engaged through the workshop activity include English Heritage Trust, the Environment Agency, Forestry England, Forestry Commission England, and the South Downs National Park Authority. The project serves as successful model for collaborative and co-created research impact activity that delivers benefits directly to policy makers, regulators and decision makers.
Collaborator Contribution IRO Co-Is were were embedded in the research team--see above. Other agencies and organisations participated in the on-line workshops and reviewed project outputs to offer feedback prior to their publication.
Impact All outputs were co-produced with partners/IRO co-investigators.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Embedded collaboration in research team and project workshops 
Organisation National Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution This project brought together experienced academic researchers, national policy makers and one of the largest landowners and managers of natural and cultural assets in England to co-create an approach that works for them. The engagement of senior representatives of Historic England and the National Trust as IRO co-investigators in the project, and the co-design and co-delivery of activities, ensured the thorough engagement of these national organisations, and made certain that the outputs will be embedded in the future delivery of HE and NT work. Natural England's involvement as a project partner enabled integration with policy and practice across historic and natural environment contexts. Other agencies and organisations engaged through the workshop activity include English Heritage Trust, the Environment Agency, Forestry England, Forestry Commission England, and the South Downs National Park Authority. The project serves as successful model for collaborative and co-created research impact activity that delivers benefits directly to policy makers, regulators and decision makers.
Collaborator Contribution IRO Co-Is were were embedded in the research team--see above. Other agencies and organisations participated in the on-line workshops and reviewed project outputs to offer feedback prior to their publication.
Impact All outputs were co-produced with partners/IRO co-investigators.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Embedded collaboration in research team and project workshops 
Organisation Natural England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution This project brought together experienced academic researchers, national policy makers and one of the largest landowners and managers of natural and cultural assets in England to co-create an approach that works for them. The engagement of senior representatives of Historic England and the National Trust as IRO co-investigators in the project, and the co-design and co-delivery of activities, ensured the thorough engagement of these national organisations, and made certain that the outputs will be embedded in the future delivery of HE and NT work. Natural England's involvement as a project partner enabled integration with policy and practice across historic and natural environment contexts. Other agencies and organisations engaged through the workshop activity include English Heritage Trust, the Environment Agency, Forestry England, Forestry Commission England, and the South Downs National Park Authority. The project serves as successful model for collaborative and co-created research impact activity that delivers benefits directly to policy makers, regulators and decision makers.
Collaborator Contribution IRO Co-Is were were embedded in the research team--see above. Other agencies and organisations participated in the on-line workshops and reviewed project outputs to offer feedback prior to their publication.
Impact All outputs were co-produced with partners/IRO co-investigators.
Start Year 2020
 
Description BBC Green Thinking Podcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In June 2021 Landscape Futures PI Caitlin DeSilvey and CoI Rodney Harrison featured on the BBC Radio 3 Green Thinking Podcast, talking about heritage action and adaptation in the climate emergency with Eleanor Barraclough from Durham University. .
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09lwq74
 
Description ICOMOS-IPCC-UNESCO Co-Sponsored Meeting on Culture, Heritage and Climate Change 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Co-I Hannah Fluck presented the LFCC project work and shared the development of the concept of adaptive release as example of work to inform international discussion about heritage and climate change.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.cultureclimatemeeting.org/
 
Description WORKSHOP 1: ADAPTIVE RELEASE: STRATEGIC CONTEXT AND POLICY CHALLENGES 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The first workshop, Adaptive Release: Strategic Context and Policy Challenges, was held online on 25 May 2021. Hosted by the project team, the workshop brought together 32 expert attendees from Historic England, the National Trust, Natural England, English Heritage Trust, the Environment Agency, Forestry England, Forestry Commission England, and the South Downs National Park Authority. Preparatory material shared with attendees prior to the workshop introduced the concept of adaptive release, which was then explored in the workshop through two focused engagement activities that sought to test adaptive release as a viable approach to managing change and loss in designated heritage assets and landscapes.
The first activity asked participants to articulate different perspectives (specifically, 'practitioner', 'regulator' and 'public') in relation to given cases studies. The second activity asked participants to engage in discussion about the tensions that would need to be negotiated to apply adaptive release, the policy barriers that exist, and the evidence that would be needed to support decision making. Different case studies were allocated for the second activity, with participants encouraged to contribute to a SWOT analysis of the adaptive release concept.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description WORKSHOP 2: ADAPTIVE RELEASE: MOVING TOWARDS INTEGRATED DECISION-MAKING 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The second workshop, Adaptive Release: Moving Towards Integrated Decision-Making, was held online on 13 July 2021. Hosted by the project team, the workshop brought together 23 expert attendees from the National Trust, Historic England, Natural England, English Heritage Trust and the Environment Agency, the majority of whom had attended the first workshop. Preparatory material shared with attendees prior to the workshop introduced the concept of adaptive release and highlighted two key themes that emerged from the first workshop as potentially useful adaptive release enablers:
1) landscape-scale thinking and a 'collections' or 'portfolio' approach (landscape/collections); and
2) natural and cultural heritage values, and how they can be considered in relation (nature/culture).
These two themes were examined in the workshop through a focused engagement activity that used two case studies to explore whether the lens of either landscape/collections or nature/culture could help enable an adaptive release approach for managing change and loss in designated heritage assets and landscapes. During the same activity we also asked participants to consider how policy and regulation and broader communication and expectations may play out along each of these themes. The two case studies used in this activity were Arlington Court (Devon) and Mullion Cove Harbour (Cornwall), both National Trust sites affected by real-world challenges of change.
A second engagement activity asked participants to discuss the practical application of both a landscape/collections and nature/culture adaptive release approach, and asked how, when change is inevitable, these lenses could help tackle the culture of preservation and anxiety about loss within heritage management. The two activities were bridged by presentations from National Trust general managers Rob Joules (North Devon) and Justin Whitehouse (Lizard & Penrose), who provided their honest reflections on the challenges faced 'on the ground' at the frontline of managing change and loss in their regions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description WORKSHOP 3: ADAPTIVE RELEASE: THE NATURE OF COVER AND THE REGULATORY ROOM TO MANOEUVRE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The third workshop, Adaptive Release: The Nature of Cover and the Regulatory Room to Manoeuvre, was held online on 20 October 2021. Hosted by the project team, the workshop brought together 27 expert attendees from the National Trust, Historic England, Natural England, and the English Heritage Trust. Two key issues emerging from the first two workshops were the focus of this third workshop. The first was around the question of insurance and finance: who pays for adaptive release, and what does the current insurance cover incentivise in relation to at risk and vulnerable assets? The second issue involved legislation and policy: is it possible to apply adaptive release in given current legislative and policy frameworks?. To tackle these questions, the workshop was structured around two sessions, each featuring guest speaker presentations to open up the debate:

1. The Nature of Cover
• Elizabeth Alcock, Insurance Business Partner for the National Trust, who gave an introduction to how insurance industry handles risk and loss, focused on the National Trust's building insurance.

2. The Regulatory Room to Manoeuvre
• Duncan McCallum, Strategy and Listing Director for Historic England, who gave a presentation focused on the thinking behind current regulations and suggestions for the future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021