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Heritage, Climate Change and Environment

Environmental impacts on the historic environment can involve flooding, coastal change, extreme weather events and changes in the distribution of species. Climate change is continually increasing the likelihood, magnitude and frequency of these processes.

Our historic environment is particularly vulnerable to environmental change. Structures which have been standing for hundreds of years and archaeology previously buried safely underground are in increasing danger from extremes of wetting, drying and temperature fluctuation. Our diverse landscapes and historic coasts are also at risk of significant change.

However, taking action now will make it possible to help protect some of the historic environment, by developing adaptation measures and building resilience into our plans. Historic England's ongoing role is to commission research and provide expert advice to protect historic places. As we move forward into climate-uncertainty, Historic England is continuing to focus on finding the best solutions to help manage vulnerable parts of the historic environment.

The former Greenburn copper mine reservoir, Cumbria, with cotton-grass in the foreground.
This former reservoir used to serve the nearby copper mine, but has returned to its original state as a tarn, fostering wildlife and enhancing the diversity of the landscape. © Historic England DP57924

Changing environmental conditions will affect buildings and archaeology, both directly through the action of physical, biological and chemical processes, and indirectly through the human actions undertaken to adapt to or mitigate them. However, the scale of change will be highly variable, with little or no adaptationrequired for some and possible acceptance of unavoidable loss for others.

 To find out more on these topics follow these links:

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