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Alpine cultural heritage protection in times of climate change

The European Commission proclaimed 2018 the European Year of Cultural Heritage. The aim is to "raise awareness among the European population of the social and economic importance of cultural heritage and to pay tribute to Europe's cultural wealth and cultural diversity" (EU Commission). This is also associated with special priorities in the European research funding. Our project CHEERS (Cultural HEritagE Risks and Securing Activities) is a 3-year project funded within the Interreg Alpine Space Program (2018-2021). The project partners come from all countries neigbouring on the Alps, Austria, Slovenia, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France.


The Alpine countries are home to a large number of tangible and intangible cultural assets, which are essential for their identity, culture and, through local tourism, also for the economy. The protection and preservation of the cultural heritage should therefore be a primary concern. Natural disasters, especially in times of climate change, represent an ever-increasing problem in this regard. For example, avalanches, floods, landslides and strong winds could potentially destroy centuries-old cultural monuments in a short time. More and more emphasis is placed on risk estimation, assessment and management, with, quite rightly, the focus being on protecting people and, subsequently, infrastructure. However, the issue of tangible and intangible cultural assets has not been extensively addressed in most cases. This is exactly where CHEERS comes in.


CHEERS aims to support national and transnational organizations concerned with the protection of cultural assets in the Alpine region. On the one hand, this support manifests itself in providing innovative approaches and tools to safeguard and rescue cultural assets affected by natural disasters. On the other hand, the project aims to assist with the joint development of new national and transnational governance and intervention programs.

These goals are achieved through a holistic, multi-level approach:

1.     Building a knowledge base to identify endangered cultural heritage

2.     Establishment of reference conservation techniques & safeguards for emergency protection operators

3.     Development of new models of emergency planning to protect cultural heritage, with the goal of transnational transferability and replicability

4.     Use of innovative technologies to develop effective climate change adaptation strategies.


This project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Alpine Space programme with 1.693.466,08 €