Keywords: cultural heritage, disaster recovery, heritage preservation, natural disasters, built environment, heritage management, historic preservation, disaster management, emergency management, critical infrastructures, risk assessment, risk management
The importance of heritage preservation in natural disaster situations
Natural disasters impact on the human-created environment. Affected are both the general built environment as well as those few places that a community cherishes as representing their past achievements, aspirations and tribulations ? their cultural heritage sites. Natural disasters are localised events and have the ability to cause extensive loss and destruction to a community's cultural heritage. Cultural heritage management ('historic preservation') aspires to protect such places from environmental decay as well as natural disasters, with technical solutions the modus operandi of choice. Disaster managers have traditionally always regarded the protection of cultural heritage places as very low on their list of priorities. This paper shows the centrality of cultural heritage to the emotional wellbeing of an affected community in the disaster-recovery phase and argues that the protection of key cultural heritage items should be regarded as akin to the treatment of critical infrastructure.