Report on Efforts to Protect Ukraine’s Cultural Heritage

The ICOMOS-UK wood committee, through its international network in the ICOMOS International Wood Committee (IIWC), has reached out and is in contact with conservators, academics and architects around the world and in Ukraine. Through these contacts I can report on current efforts to protect Ukraine’s invaluable cultural heritage.

IIWC colleague Eleftheria Tsakanika is a structural engineer from Greece. She was a member of the Sept 2012 UNESCO field evaluation mission sent to assess the nomination of Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine for UNESCO World Heritage List inscription. During her mission she visited the all the wooden Tserkvas (churches), including the 8 which are located in the western part of Ukraine. The serial nomination of 16 Tserkvas was inscribed on the WHS list in 2013.

I asked Eleftheria if anything she observed on her visit which might have been cause for concern from the point of view of disaster risk management and prevention measures. She replied: 

“Actually no, the opposite. There was a well-organized protection plan of all the authorities of both countries, that included also the local communities, a continuous and a quite effective ‘monitoring and safeguarding system’, since one of the criteria that had to be evaluated is how the properties were and will be protected from factors affecting them: development pressures, environmental pressures (pollution, climate, change, desertification), biotic risks (decay, wood borers), natural disasters and risk preparedness (windstorms, floods, fires, burglary risk etc.), visitors/tourism pressure. Unfortunately, we forgot a danger. The one that they are facing now. But how can you protect these magnificent and fragile structures, from the actions during a war? From actions that are organized and executed with one scope – destruction, total disrespect of human life, and of any expression of its past, its identity, its culture?”

Click on the the link below to read the full report.