How vulnerable is your heritage place/object?

Climate change vulnerability is a result of the climatic exposure of a place and its sensitivity to that exposure.

Understanding the vulnerability of your heritage place/object is important. It helps determine the nature and degree of risk posed by different climatic hazards. It also means you can develop and prioritise appropriate responses to mitigate these hazards.

Assessing vulnerability to climate change impacts can be complex. It depends on a range of interrelated factors, including:

  • the type of heritage place or object (e.g. a timber house, a corrugated iron hut, a stone statue)
  • its current condition (e.g. well maintained, rundown, ruinous)
  • its location, and current and predicted climatic exposure.

The climatic exposure of a place/object depends on its geographic location and the local environment. For example:

  • a place/object surrounded by dense bushland may be at a greater risk from more intense and more frequent fires
  • a place/object close to low-lying areas and waterways may be at risk of flooding and water damage.

The type of heritage place/object you have, and its condition, will also influence how sensitive it will be to those climatic impacts. For example:

  • a timber building in a forest or grassland area may be particularly vulnerable to bushfires. If the building is also in poor condition, with rotted cladding and a damaged roof, its vulnerability to climate change hazards (such as fire, storms and intense downpours) will increase.
  • a well-maintained, low-lying stone building that houses an important collection of records and objects may be vulnerable to flooding. Its roof and stormwater drainage, while faithfully preserved, may now be inadequate for increasingly intense downpours. Its foundations may also be eroding from rushing water outside.

Practical tools

The Heritage Council has developed the following resources to assist owners and managers.

Case studies Ten brief case studies have been developed. These show some of the different challenges for heritage places across the state.

Vulnerability Assessment Guide This guide has been structured to align with the Principles. It poses a series of questions to help you start to understand the potential vulnerability of your place/object to different climate change impacts.

A series of high-level tables have also been created to provide a starting point for thinking about vulnerability. They are based on eight common types of historical heritage places or objects:

Qualified and experienced heritage specialists should be consulted in undertaking any climate vulnerability or risk assessment of your place or object.

The Heritage Council of Victoria thanks Heritage Victoria (Department of Transport and Planning), Ian Travers and Dr Anita Smith (Extent Heritage), Christophe Brulliard (Point Advisory) and Peter Cox (Carrig Conservation International) for working with the Heritage Council to develop the vulnerability assessment guidance and tables.