STRENCH is a project funded by the EU Interreg Central Europe Programme, led by the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate - National Research Council of Italy (IT) and implemented in partnership with eight other partner organisations from Central Europe.

Natural and man-made hazards, anthropogenic impacts and extreme climate changes are putting natural and cultural heritage under constant and increasing pressure. Moreover, such disasters and catastrophes pose new and ever-changing challenges for the conservation of cultural property and urgently require innovative conservation and protection concepts, especially under extreme climatic conditions. These events also threaten the social, cultural, historical and artistic values of the heritage, the safety of citizens and have an impact on local economies linked to tourism. Therefore, research into adaptation strategies, methods and other mitigation measures is crucial to protect European cultural heritage from the constant pressures it faces and the resulting consequences of deterioration.

STRENCH aims to enhance the capacity of policy makers, public authorities, the private sector and social actors to strengthen the resilience of cultural heritage sites, structures and buildings in a changing environment through proactive transnational cooperation and coordination. Through transnational cooperation, STRENCH aims primarily to improve the capacity of Central and Eastern European local authorities to enhance the resilience of their cultural heritage in the field of environmental and landscape protection, to promote the long-term socio-economic development of the regions and to strengthen their competitiveness.

The results of the project will make it possible to proactively address the needs and demands of stakeholders and policy makers responsible for disaster prevention and cultural heritage protection, and to promote the active participation of citizens and local communities in decision-making processes.


Despite the internationally recognised impacts of climate change on natural and cultural heritage, as evidenced by numerous projects funded by the European Commission on this topic, the protection and conservation of cultural heritage is not yet adequately and appropriately addressed in broader international climate change policies, as demonstrated by the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability (IPCC, 2014). At the national level, there have recently been isolated attempts to integrate heritage into broader national and international policies (Italy, France). In addition, research has highlighted the need for multiple risk scenarios for complex structures (cultural landscapes, historic centres, archaeological sites), early warning systems and disaster preparedness measures specifically targeting those responsible for cultural heritage as gaps that still need to be addressed (Bonazza et al., 2018. Safeguarding Cultural Heritage from Natural and Man-made Disasters).

Furthermore, the lack of attention and financial resources, the bureaucratic obstacles and the still insufficient social and political awareness that natural and cultural heritage can be an incentive to mitigate the effects of disasters and that its protection should be promoted in support of socio-economic development and sustainable tourism should be highlighted. More effective cooperation between stakeholders involved in decision-making, including the scientific community, would help to set priorities and allocate resources appropriately.

In line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the European Agenda for Culture, the political development of innovative strategies and the integration of cultural heritage protection into key policy and planning documents will become more important. STRENCH will be tailor-made and robustly implemented to provide ready-to-use solutions for the management of cultural heritage at risk from climate change-related extreme events. It will use climate models, risk indices, vulnerability assessments and Copernicus services/products developed, tested and applied in past and ongoing EU funded projects. The results of the following projects will be used:

The Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE projects 'ProteCHt2save', 'RUINS', 'HICAPS' and 'BhENEFIT', the H2020 projects 'HERACLES' and 'Shelter', the FP6 projects 'NOAHS ARK' and 'Climate for Culture' as well as the DG-EAC project 'Safeguarding Cultural Heritage from Natural and Man-Made Disasters'.


The overall objective of STRENCH is to improve the capacity for sustainable use of cultural heritage and its resources: To strengthen the skills and knowledge of policy makers, public authorities, the private sector and social actors in relation to the conservation and management of natural and cultural heritage threatened by the impacts of hazardous events related to climate change.

The project activities aim to improve the protection, management, sustainable use and valorisation of cultural heritage in a changing environment by developing and implementing an innovative tool and regional and international strategies based on the accurate processing, harmonisation and dissemination of existing results of targeted European projects on the vulnerability and resilience of cultural heritage to extreme (natural) events:

  • Ready-to-use climate change impact assessment solutions (Web GIS Tool, hazard maps, vulnerability classification methodology, disaster risk reduction strategies):

The tools cover hazard assessments for flash floods, storms, landslides, heavy precipitation, floods in large river basins and drought-induced fires. They address the protection of additional cultural categories, such as cultural landscapes, historic parks, archaeological sites and small ruined villages in mountain and coastal regions, using the results of heritage management models.

In addition, satellite data and services from the Copernicus programme will be used to provide a platform for the development of early warning systems specifically targeted at the protection of cultural heritage. The combination of real-time Earth observation data with climate modelling results will enable short and long-term risk assessment.


  • Strategies for the protection of cultural heritage at risk:

The implementation of the developed sustainable risk management strategies (preparedness, contingency, recovery) will be tested at seven pilot sites in the seven partner countries. This will ensure the testing of the strategies and tools for targeted resilience building measures.


  • Supporting local actors to improve their know-how in the process of defining intervention priorities and strategies:

Two summer schools are dedicated to the use of the WebGIS tool, multi-risk analysis of cultural heritage and preventive measures for the conservation of heritage at risk and the cultural landscape.

Concrete steps will also be taken to integrate cultural heritage into national and regional disaster risk reduction plans by developing specific measures and strategies and promoting proactive cooperation between the actors involved in the decision-making process. A participatory approach with the different target groups concerned (public authorities, social institutions, research sector) will be promoted from the outset.

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