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CULT-STRAT — Result In Brief

Project ID: 501609
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Sweden

Better preservation of Europe's cultural heritage

Europe's cultural heritage must be protected from a range of threats if we are to continue to be able to fully appreciate it. One EU-funded initiative worked to help make meeting this challenge a little easier for all involved.
Better preservation of Europe's cultural heritage
Bad air quality poses a serious threat to objects of cultural heritage: EU directives must take into consideration the impact of anthropogenic pollutants on symbols that form an integral part of European identity. This is especially relevant for the European Commission's 'Clean Air for Europe' (CAFE) programme, interventions through the 'Culture 2000' Framework Programme and structural funds.

The good news is that the impacts of air pollution are measurable and often obvious. As such, questions arising involve the degree to which it affects buildings and statues, repair costs, ways to prevent unnecessary losses and the importance of maintaining particular monuments.

The 'Assessment of air pollution effects on cultural heritage - management strategies' (Cult-strat) project worked to provide a scientific reference integrating existing knowledge as well as that generated from workshops as a means of addressing such issues. The form this would take — a manual — would help heritage managers making strategic decisions at the local level, and decision and policymakers within the CAFE Programme developing relevant policies at national and EU levels.

Project partners aimed to identify material indicators and pollutant threshold levels to facilitate the work of these actors. Long-term benefits of such policies include reducing damage, and achieving sustainable maintenance and preventive conservation of the continent's cultural heritage. Towards this end, they evaluated existing recommendations for reducing pollutants close to areas of cultural heritage areas, minimising corrosion costs and realising target values. Methodologies for conducting pertinent risk assessment studies were also developed.

Measured data and modelled future scenarios were used to map the potential damage and associated costs for different areas, with corrosion maps being produced for carbon steel, copper, bronze, zinc and Portland limestone. Team members chose these elements as primary indicators for corrosion, and verified them across a network of test sites over an extended period.

Other Cult-strat activities took a case-study approach to enhance understanding of various aspects related to categories of materials playing a role in life-cycle or life-time derivations, how estimates of the latter could serve as a basis for management strategies, and evaluation of cost–benefit analyses for particular heritage types across locations.

Bringing together different fields of expertise, the project successfully organised two workshops for discussion and dissemination of its results. A book was also published that combines recent research results with practical information; it can be used as a reference manual for, among others, policymakers, researchers and those managing the protection of cultural heritage.

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