Resilience is defined in this report as:
… the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganise while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, integrity, and feedbacks. Walker et al.,107 p. 1
In the case of heritage, attributes such as function, structure and integrity are fundamental to the identified values of the place that give rise to its designation as a heritage item. Therefore, with respect to heritage, resilience may be understood as the ability to experience shocks while retaining heritage values.
Resilience is partly an aspect of the nature of the place itself, partly an aspect of the nature of its value, and partly a function of the manner in which it is managed. For example, the resilience of a large natural landscape will be vastly different from the resilience of a small archaeological deposit. In addition, physical change will affect heritage values in some places, while intangible qualities such as use or beliefs are more important in other places. Loss of knowledge may therefore have a greater adverse effect on heritage values than changes to the physical aspects of a place. The resilience of Australian heritage, while influenced by drivers such as climate change, population growth and economic development, is also strongly affected by governance arrangements, resources and community attitudes.
Heritage resilience may be considered and managed at different levels. For example, individual heritage places may be very susceptible to shocks such as fire, flood, demolition or loss of traditional knowledge, but the total natural or cultural resource base may be sufficiently robust to withstand the loss of individual places without substantive overall loss of value.