Hidden Heritage and Climate Change – Riverine Landscapes as Living Laboratories for Climate Change Adaptation

William Megarry*, M. Satish Kumar, Ruth Morrow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The impact of climate change on cultural heritage cannot be understated. Rising sea levels, increased storminess and changing weather patterns, coupled with secondary pressures like migration and resource scarcity, are directly impacting the integrity and management of heritage sites globally. This impact is most acutely felt in the developing world and amongst small island developing states (SIDS) where resources to mitigate against landscape change are scarce. While modern technological solutions are valuable, many indigenous cultures have both lived with, and adapted to, rapid landscape change by utilising local resources and building designs. This is particularly the case with riverine cultures which have evolved around the annual flooding of their landscapes.
This paper will present preliminary results from the Hidden Heritage in Majuli Project, an interdisciplinary study into climate and landscape change, cultural adaptation and mitigation. Majuli is the largest inhabited riverine island in the world and is on the Indian tentative list of World Heritage Sites. Located in Assam in the Northeast of India, in the midst of the Brahmaputra River, the low-lying island is prone to annual flooding which submerges most of the island. It is also home to unique expressions of tangible and intangible culture including over 40 Satras, which are 15th century religious communities from the Neo-Vaishnavite tradition, and the oral and craft cultures of tribal cultures including the Mishing and Deori. Given the constant flooding, both Satras and tribes have had to move frequently, creating a transitional cultural and ritual landscape which is a living laboratory to better understand cultural heritage and climate change adaptation. Presented results will include mapping and inventory of sites, land change and land use change remote sensing techniques, documentary films and interviews.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 15 Oct 2018
Event2018 ICOMOS-ICAHM Annual Meeting - Montalbano Elicona, Province of Messina, Montalbano Elicona, Italy
Duration: 25 Oct 201828 Oct 2018


Conference2018 ICOMOS-ICAHM Annual Meeting
CityMontalbano Elicona
Internet address


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