9 Heritage | 3.6 Pressures on historic heritage
State of the Environment 2011 Committee. Australia state of the environment 2011.
Independent report to the Australian Government Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
Canberra: DSEWPaC, 2011.
Particular pressures on historic heritage include changing use and economic values. Poor management practices (including loss of skills and expertise) that can also threaten historic heritage are dealt with in Section 4 of this chapter.
For many historic sites, the current use of the site may itself be significant in a heritage context. Churches, war memorials, community halls and post offices fall into this category. Pressures for change of use may arise in response to altered economic conditions, changing demographics, new commercial opportunities or other factors. Sometimes a new use is compatible with the heritage value of a place, but sometimes it is not. For some historic sites, direct tension arises between cultural and economic values, with likely prejudice being to favour economics over culture. The recent sale of many Australian post offices and their replacement by smaller agency postal outlets, often in the same suburb or town, is a case in point.
|Very high impact||High impact||Low impact||Very low impact||in grade||in trend|
|Rising temperatures||Rising temperatures will cause loss of habitat, species extinction, changes to traditional lifestyles and physical damage to historic places|
|Changing rainfall||Rainfall is increasing in northern Australia and decreasing elsewhere, resulting in changes to habitat, flooding (which causes loss of and damage to sites), erosion, destabilisation and desiccation|
|Rising sea level||Sea level rise is predicted to cause loss of coastal habitats and sites, and changes to traditional lifestyles and historic settlement patterns, and give rise to indirect impacts through local economic effects|
|Altered fire regimes||Wildfires are increasing in frequency and intensity, causing loss of biodiversity and habitat, and damage to or destruction of sites and landscapes|
|More frequent extreme weather events||Damage and destruction is wrought by increases in the frequency and severity of events such as floods, cyclones and hail storms, as well as collateral damage caused by rescue or clean-up activities and loss of financial and human resources due to effects on local economic activity|
|Community perceptions of value||The majority of Australians value both natural and cultural heritage; however, this perception is disconnected from the allocation of public resources. For some places, heritage values are perceived as expendable|
Decline in rural population reduces demand for facilities and infrastructure, thereby placing pressure on redundant built assets and reducing resources available for all heritage conservation activities
Urban and coastal population increase creates more intensive land uses and pressures from increasing land values and infrastructure demand. These factors lead to the destruction of heritage places to make way for new development, inappropriate changes to heritage places and impacts on their setting
|Resource extraction||Major resource extraction industries, such as mining and forestry, create pressure on both natural and cultural heritage places whose conservation would limit resource extraction activity. The disparity in perceived value between exploitable resources and heritage resources exacerbates this pressure|
|Development||Large and small developments can threaten the survival of heritage places or jeopardise their natural and cultural values through inappropriate changes or impact on their setting. Particular issues arise in relation to development consent processes, which often characterise heritage as a barrier|
|Tourism||There is tension between the inherent values of some heritage places and their important role as tourist attractions. Although interpretation and experience of heritage is an important conservation activity, over-visitation or inappropriate visitor behaviour can harm the very values that make the place worth visiting|
|Pressures on natural heritage|
|Invasive species||Invasive species and pathogens directly affect natural heritage values. Despite Australia's active management, the number of invasive species and the intensity of their effects are increasing|
|Loss of habitat||Impacts from climate change, land clearing and land management continue to affect ecosystems, especially those represented by small remnants within larger cleared areas|
|Land use||Australian land suffers from the relict impact of extensive land clearing. Use of land for development, urbanisation, agriculture and resource extraction may conflict with natural values|
|Soil erosion||Examination of a small sample of natural heritage places suggests that they are at high risk from severe erosion types such as mass soil movement and sheet and gully erosion, and moderate risk from other erosion forms. Reliable trend data are not available|
|Pressures on Indigenous heritage|
|Loss of knowledge||Indigenous heritage has not been comprehensively surveyed and assessed, so knowledge of the resource is incomplete. The intangible values of Indigenous heritage places are directly degraded when the knowledge relating to associated belief and traditional practices is lost. Loss of traditional knowledge poses a major and continuing threat to Australia's Indigenous cultural heritage|
|Loss of traditional cultural practice and social connections||Indigenous communities in Australia continue to suffer disconnection from country or face significant challenges in pursuing traditional land and sea management or other cultural practices; however, some significant improvements have been made that both recognise and improve management arrangements for Indigenous heritage|
|Incremental destruction||A major pressure on Indigenous heritage is the continuing incremental destruction of sites through an accumulation of one-off decisions associated with particular developments. The pressure is created by a combination of inadequate inventory and consent processes that identify impacts, but seldom give primacy to Indigenous site conservation|
|Pressures on historic heritage|
|Changing use and economic values||Many historic heritage items are by their nature 'old' and therefore may be perceived as redundant or incapable of new use. This perception, particularly when coupled with changes in underlying asset value, creates pressures to redevelop, sometimes through demolition. There is, however, an emerging tendency to consider retaining and adapting historic structures|
|Lack of skills and expertise||The continuing decline in availability of specialist heritage tradespeople and a looming skills shortage will place major pressures on historic heritage conservation in the immediate future|
|Recent trends||Improving||Stable||Confidence||Adequate high-quality evidence and high consensus|
|Deteriorating||Unclear||Limited evidence or limited consensus|
|Evidence and consensus too low to make an assessment|
|Grades||Very low impact: : Current and predicted impacts may have some effect on the heritage values of individual places|
|Low impact: Current and predicted impacts are likely to have some effect on the heritage values of individual places and some landscapes|
|High impact: Current and predicted impacts are wide ranging and are likely to affect the heritage values of individual places and landscapes and the whole of Australia's heritage|
|Very high impact: Current and predicted impacts are wide ranging and, if unchecked, will irreversibly affect the heritage values of individual places and landscapes and the whole of Australia's heritage|