Funded by the European Union’s Ireland-Wales programme, the CHERISH project (Climate, Heritage and Environments of Reefs, Islands and Headlands) will support specialist organisations in Wales and Ireland to employ cutting-edge technologies to analyse coastal and island archaeology and maritime heritage sites, which are most affected by climate change, coastal erosion and rising sea levels.
It will fund new excavations, environmental studies, marine mapping and landscape modelling. It will also support future strategies for climate change by providing a deeper understanding of longer-term changes to Wales and Ireland’s heritage and coastal environments which attract thousands of visitors each year.
The collaborative research has the potential to help safeguard coastal and heritage sites from the risk of climate change and minimise negative impacts on local economies.
The project will also provide information to support the development of tourism opportunities through training and public events.
Tourism and heritage sites, such as the Pembrokeshire islands and the Llŷn Peninsula in Wales and the islands off the south and east coasts of Ireland will be the focus of the collaborative research.
Welsh Government Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said:
“This project brings Wales and Ireland together to tackle some of our shared challenges around climate and environmental changes in our coastal regions.
“It’s very important that heritage sites and assets under threat from climate change are protected, and I’m pleased this investment will also support new opportunities for the tourism sector in both nations.”
Irish Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, T.D. said:
“This project is an excellent example of how new technologies can be used to address emerging issues such as climate change and its impact on our shared heritage and marine environment. It also underscores the importance of cross-border cooperation and support from the European Union for such cooperation.”
The five-year project will be led by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales in partnership with Aberystwyth University, the Discovery Programme: Centre for Archaeology and Innovation Ireland and Geological Survey, Ireland.
In addition to €4.1m of EU funds, CHERISH has been co-financed by €1.1m from the participating organisations.
Christopher Catling, secretary of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, said:
“This is an exciting new project. CHERISH brings a strong partnership of archaeologists, geoscientists and maritime specialists to bear on the significant challenges posed by climate change to the historic environment.
“The project will also enable us for the first time to undertake fieldwork on some of Wales and Ireland’s richest archaeological landscapes, which we believe will open up many new and exciting opportunities for coastal and heritage tourism across both nations.”