Protecting history from climate change
Adaptation strategy for the archaeology sector underway in Barrington
An adaptation coordinator has been hired and work will soon begin on the implementation of a climate change adaptation strategy for the archeology sector.
The two-year, provincially funded $400,000 project is being led by the Cape Sable Historical Society, Barrington.
"We are excited to host the climate change adaptation coordinator for the archaeology sector here at the Cape Sable Historical Society," said Samantha Brannen, managing director of the Cape Sable Historical Society, in a media release. "In our coastal region, we are well acquainted with the urgency associated with climate change impacts and heritage sites. This funding provides an exceptional opportunity to collaborate, educate, train and implement with a range of communities connected by this growing issue."
Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change (ECC) Minister Timothy Halman said the effects of climate change are broad-reaching.
"We need to take action to protect our history from its impacts," he said. "The climate change adaptation strategy for the archaeology sector will help preserve our heritage while confronting the challenges of a changing world. By addressing sector concerns, we are strengthening the foundations of our history against the tide of climate change, ensuring resilience and a lasting legacy for future generations."
The climate change adaptation strategy for the archaeology sector addresses issues and priorities raised by the sector and sets goals for responding to climate change. The strategy was developed between 2020 and 2022.
Erosion, sea level rise, storms and flooding on vulnerable archeological sites, the potential loss of information, stories, and cultural history that these sites represent, and monitoring changes in conditions at archeological sites, are among the climate change issues that have been raised by the archaeological sector, said Elizabeth MacDonald, ECC spokesperson.
Priorities identified by the archeological sector include improving climate data collection and management related to a changing climate, public awareness and engaging communities about archeology and the impacts of climate change on archeology, collaboration and relationships – community engagement and stewardship activities such as citizen science programs, said MacDonald.
The funding will be used by the Cape Sable Historical Society to support archaeological site adaptation work throughout Nova Scotia, said MacDonald.
In addition to hiring an adaptation coordinator, the Society will also create diverse implementation teams and develop strategy work plans.
The initial goals for the Society's work are to form a governance and implementation team, communicating with the province's archaeology sector about the strategy, developing work plans, and starting work on tactics to achieve the strategy's outcomes.
The society will be working closely with the province in developing and implementing the province-wide climate change adaptation strategy.
“Staff from the departments of Environment and Climate Change and Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage will be part of the governance team, and will help support the coordinator's work. Reporting on the society's province-wide work will be done via the Province's annual Climate Plan reporting,” MacDonald said.
The Cape Sable Historical Society was chosen to oversee the implementation of the strategy for the archaeology sector because of its experience in collaboration and community stewardship specifically related to climate change and archeology.
"The society has partnered with the Nova Scotia
Museum on archeological excavations at the Fort Saint Louis National Historical site over the last few years, which have included public archeology days and museum exhibits on climate change impacts and archeology,” MacDonald noted.
Dr. Katie Cottreau-Robins, Curator of Archaeology for the Nova Scotia Museum, said archaeologists working around the province are noting the impacts of climate change on archaeological sites.
“They have been observing and recording such changes for years as they visit sites or complete work at sites," she said. "Archaeologists are in the field every week and there is a tremendous opportunity to record changes, complete risk assessments and prioritize future work."
At Fort Saint Louis, she said they've observed and recorded in their work that the site has been eroding and is impacted by storm surge, sea level rise, high winds and hurricanes.
"Parts of the site are shifting to the southwest as the
large berm in front of the site migrates with these climate changes. That movement takes artifacts with it," said Cottreau-Robins. "Water inundation is also covering parts of the site that were once dry land. We are thinking about options to stabilize a few areas that are particularly vulnerable."
“We are delighted to be working with the NSDECC and equally pleased to now have funding and a strategy to begin creating further awareness of the issue for Nova Scotians,” added CottreauRobins. “Nova Scotians care deeply about their cultural heritage and the stories linked to sites and objects. We need to work in partnership on this issue to help preserve our cultural legacy. This announcement provides a path. It's an exciting time.”
Cottreau-Robins will be back in Shelburne County in September to conduct a fifth archaeological dig at the Fort Saint Louis in Port LaTour. The dig was originally scheduled for June but had to be postponed due to the Barrington Lake wildfire.