Pressures affecting heritage values

Component
Summary
Grade
Very high impact High impact Low impact Very low impact
Confidence
In Grade In Trend
Comparability
To previous years

Rising temperatures will cause habitat loss, species extinction, changes to traditional lifestyles and physical damage

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Rising temperatures will cause loss of habitat, species extinction, changes to traditional lifestyles and physical damage to historic places

Year(s): 
2011
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Rainfall changes affect habitat, and create flooding, erosion, destabilisation and desiccation. These changes may affect water-reliant cultural practices

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Sea level rise will cause loss of coastal habitats and sites, and changes to traditional lifestyles and settlement patterns, as well as indirect impacts through local economic effects

Year(s): 
2016
1
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
1
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Wildfires are increasing in frequency and intensity, causing loss of biodiversity and habitat, damage to sites and landscapes, and changes to cultural practices

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Wildfires are increasing in frequency and intensity, causing loss of biodiversity and habitat, and damage to or destruction of sites and landscapes

Year(s): 
2011
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Damage is wrought by increases in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, as well as collateral damage caused by rescue or clean-up activities, and loss of financial and human resources

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Ocean acidification has increased dramatically and is expected to magnify substantially, with serious consequences for ecosystems in coastal Australia

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

For some places, heritage values are perceived as less important than economic values. Increasing overseas investment means that less value is placed on Australian heritage by some sections of the community. The lower priority afforded to heritage is reflected in reduced public-sector funding

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Decline in rural population reduces demand for facilities and infrastructure, thereby placing pressure on redundant built assets and lessening resources available for heritage conservation

Urban and coastal population increase creates more intensive land uses, and pressures from increasing land values and infrastructure demand

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Major resource extraction industries, such as mining and forestry, create pressure on both natural and cultural heritage places. The disparity in perceived value between exploitable resources and heritage resources exacerbates this pressure. Government actively seeks to remove barriers and facilitate resource extraction projects. Both emerging technologies for new resources, such as coal-seam gas, and legacy issues from closed mines create challenges for natural and cultural heritage conservation

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Developments may threaten the survival of heritage places, or jeopardise their natural and cultural values through inappropriate changes or impact on their setting

The development-consent process often characterises heritage as a barrier.

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

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 process, which often characterise heritage as a barrier

Year(s): 
2011
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Heritage makes a major contribution to tourism in Australia. There is tension between the values of some heritage places and their role as tourist attractions. At some heritage places, tourism opportunities are favoured over conservation requirements. Although interpretation and experience of heritage are important conservation activities, overvisitation or inappropriate visitor behaviour can harm heritage values. Perceived importance of ‘visitor services’ can divert resources from conservation activities

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

There is tension between the inherent values of some heritage places and their important role as tourist attractions. Although interpretation and experience of heritage are important conservation activities, overvisitation or inappropriate visitor behaviour can harm the very values that make the place worth visiting

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Measures of sustainability are beginning to consider embodied energy, natural and cultural inheritance values, lifecycles, and use of renewable resources. Continuing innovative approaches to achieving good heritage outcomes are desirable

Year(s): 
2016
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Very limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Very limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Invasive species and pathogens directly affect natural heritage values. Despite Australia’s active management, the number of terrestrial and marine invasive species, and the intensity of their effects are increasing

Year(s): 
2016
1
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Somewhat adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
1
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Impacts from climate change, land clearing and land management continue to affect terrestrial and marine ecosystems

Year(s): 
2016
1
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Somewhat adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Impacts from climate change, land clearing and land management continue to affect ecosystems, especially those represented by small remnants within larger cleared areas

Year(s): 
2011
1
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Australian land suffers from the relic impact of extensive land clearing and the incremental impact of ongoing land clearing. Use of land for development, urbanisation, agriculture and resource extraction may conflict with natural values

Year(s): 
2016
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
3
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Natural heritage places remain 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

Year(s): 
2016
2
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Very limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
2
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Progressive loss of ecological connectivity may lead to systemic degradation of the total natural heritage, leading to extinction and loss of biodiversity

Year(s): 
2016
2
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Knowledge of the nature and extent of the resource is incomplete. The intangible values of Indigenous heritage places are directly degraded when the knowledge relating to associated belief is lost and/or when Indigenous people are not able to use that knowledge on Country

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Some Indigenous communities in Australia continue to be disconnected from Country or face significant challenges in pursuing cultural practices. However, in other places, there are appropriate, inclusive management arrangements for Indigenous heritage

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Very limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
2
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Indigenous heritage incurs ongoing incremental destruction through an accumulation of decisions associated with individual development and resource extraction projects

Year(s): 
2016
1
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Very limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
1
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Some traditional languages remain very strong and are gaining more speakers, but others are declining. Despite a widespread desire to strengthen traditional languages, all traditional Indigenous languages remain at risk

Year(s): 
2016
2
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Some historic heritage places are perceived as redundant or incapable of new use, creating pressures to demolish or redevelop. Public heritage assets are increasingly being sold or leased. Major infrastructure projects and increased urban density threaten historic heritage places. However, there is also an emerging tendency to retain and adapt historic structures

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Somewhat adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
2
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Pressures on historic heritage—loss of traditional heritage trade skills

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • Title has changed for 2016 assessment

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

The continuing decline in availability of specialist heritage tradespeople, lack of training opportunities and a looming skills shortage are placing major pressures on historic heritage conservation

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Somewhat adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

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

Year(s): 
2011
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed
Mackay R (2016). Heritage: Pressures affecting heritage values. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/assessment-summary-92-pressures-affecting-heritage-values, DOI 10.4226/94/58b658bbe13a0