-is the assessment of consequences (positive and negative) and identifying, predicting, evaluating the effects of a plan, policy, program, or actual projects prior to the decision to move forward with the proposed action
Types of heritage impact assessment/History
-The types of impact assessments include global assessments (global level), policy impact assessment (policy level) and environmental assessment (project level).
-Impact assessment evolved during the 1960s in response to growing public interest in the
protection of the environment from the consequences of development, using models and
approaches from the natural sciences, particularly ecology. The aim was to empower the
environment in decision-making and development planning. The success of the impact
assessment model as a planning tool since the beginning of the sustainable development
debate of the 1970s led to its wider application, including applications to heritage. It was
first applied to archaeological resources of known importance that were threatened with
destruction due to infrastructure development projects. Impact assessment applied to
archaeological and other cultural heritage resources is now gaining universal acceptance as
an essential development planning and heritage management tool.
Heritage Impact Assessment
-is a systematic process of identifying the probable results of a proposed policy or action on the cultural heritage of a place and its communities.
-In recent years the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has addressed related to threats to World Heritage properties from various forms of large-scale development. These developments include roads, bridges, tall buildings, “box” buildings (e.g. malls), inappropriate, acontextual or insensitive developments, renewals, demolitions and new infrastructure typologies like wind farms, as well as land-use policy changes and large scale urban frameworks. The Committee has also examined threats from excessive or inappropriate tourism. Many of these projects have had
the potential to impact adversely on the appearance, skyline, key views and other different
attributes that contribute to Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). In order for the ICOMOS and the Committee to evaluate satisfactorily these potential threats, there is a need to be specific about the impacts of proposed changes on OUV.
Importance of HIA
-HIA provides the methodology to safeguard the integrity of heritage resources in the face of
these threats from development, or other scenarios of external change; to negotiate a
sustainable balance between the forces of change, progress and conservation in ways that
maintain the authenticity of the threatened heritage, preserving its significance, meaning,
and function in the life of the community; and to mitigate the adverse impacts of
development and change, enhancing and adding value to the heritage as a result.
-It also ensures the continuity and continued relevance of culture in the community and protects significance of heritage assets from exploitation, misuse and degradation as a result of change.
-The development of new and diverse applications of HIA to deal with “real world heritage problems such as HIA of adaptive reuse proposals for historic properties; to evaluate the sustainability of tourism at heritage places.
-Importantly, HIA has been adopted reflectively to assess the impacts of proposed or ongoing
heritage conservation projects, which often pose a grave threat to heritage.
What is assessed?
-There are different definitions of what Cultural Heritage should be assessed in an HIA. Tangible, immoveable heritage is the main focus especially nationally and internationally protected heritage. Intangible heritage, however, is not considered in the HIA processes of international funding agencies and many national frameworks.
-Some systems recommend that given constraints of time and money, assessment should
focus on the most significant impacts in order of priority; the problem with this approach
is one of sequence where someone has to identify what are the “most significant impacts” before the impact assessment itself is carried out. This concept is dangerous as it implies that only high-profile, legally protected and well defined “used” resources need focused protection.
Resources which have legal protection and/or international recognition are guaranteed to receive attention, while the undocumented areas of archaeological and heritage potential are ignored. Most frameworks provide no guidance on how to find them and instead rely at best on “chance finds”.
Important players and what they do
-Because HIA is integrated into larger strategic plans and development projects, there are
players at a number of different levels. There are those who decide whether or not a
proposed project needs a HIA, those who write the scope and tender documents, specialists
who actually implement the HIA, reviewers who assess the HIA and approve the project,
and finally, those who implement and then monitor mitigation measures.
-It is agreed upon that professional input into this complex process is essential, but
approaches differ on the degree of such input and at what stage it should be required.
Some apply strict vetting and listing of professional qualifications while others work on the
underlying assumption that a HIA will not be carried out by cultural heritage professionals at
all. It is accepted that in the majority of cases it be carried out by someone who is
appointed to be the heritage generalist. He/she will come from some other background, and
will most likely be covering heritage on a part-time basis while still being responsible for
their own discipline. Cultural heritage practitioners are consulted but not integrated into
cultural heritage identification and safeguarding except in “exceptional cases” . As a result, there is a risk that poorly informed decisions at the early stages of the HIA will negate later findings and compromise the effectiveness of the whole process.
-This development of varied approaches and methods of HIA for different agendas has enriched the practice but has also resulted in methodological confusion and mixed standards of implementation and reporting.
Guidance to help deal with this situation is very sophisticated including international principles, guidance from international organizations, guidance for specific types of heritage, from countries where HIA is part of the EIA process, and for specific types of development. The targeted users vary from site managers to consultant practitioners, government heritage authorities and funding banks. All state the importance of safeguarding heritage, or at least of tangible heritage, and urge the inclusion of cultural heritage into the formal EIA process.
-Looking at these adaptations of HIA informs us regarding the current state of practice and
reveals a great deal about the potential of the methodology and how it can be further
developed. At the national and regional levels worldwide work continues on setting
standards and procedures for HIA. ICCROM has been focusing on the development of
methodology for HIA in its many applications, working for example in Asia with the Asian
Academy for Heritage Management (AAHM, online) and the World Heritage Institute for
Training and Research in Asia and the Pacific (WHITRAP) on training and manuals for global
use. Similarly, ICOMOS has prepared guidance specifically for the use of HIA at World
Heritage properties (ICOMOS, 2011) and the World Bank continues to refine their safeguard
policies using impact assessment procedures and approaches.
-In recent years there has been a growing interest in developing the theoretical underpinning
of HIA. HIA can be seen as one of a suite of tools that help support more sustainable
decision making and planning, but there is a wide range of views as to how effective it can
be from a theoretical point of view. HIA like EIA was built upon the rationalist model that if
we provide better and more information to decision makers then they will inevitably make
better and more rational decisions. This is clearly contrary to political and social reality.
Current research and critique of HIA is focusing on these issues and on how to expand,
reinforce and develop the scope of HIA (Roders & van Oers, 2012).