Cork Copernicus Hackathon on Natural and Cultural Heritage

Cork Copernicus Hackathon on Natural and Cultural Heritage

23 May, 2020 - 24 May 2020 - Cork, Ireland

Participants will conceive and develop ideas to respond to the four following challenges:

Challenge 1: Using Copernicus data and services to safeguard Irish Natural Heritage

Description: The national heritage of Ireland includes flora, fauna, wildlife habitats, landscapes, seascapes, wrecks, geology, heritage gardens and parks, and inland waterways. Ireland’s Natura 2000 network consists of 595 sites, covering a total of 19.485km2.

Irish landscapes and wildlife are important socio-economic assets, but are threatened by climate change, urban sprawl, tourism and agriculture. Ireland is in danger of losing a heritage which, by virtue of its island status, has not changed radically for millennia.

EO offers an opportunity to better understand Irish heritage today, with the objective to protect it alongside the communities it can support in the longer term.

Objectives: Use Copernicus data and services to help managers of natural heritage in the following domains: Management of protected sites; Protection of endangered and threatened species; Management of marine habitats; Connecting important landscapes and biodiverse areas across the country; Tackling non-native invasive species; Engagement with stakeholder and facilitating public participation.

Keywords: natural heritage; habitats; soil mapping; vegetation mapping; biodiversity; marine life; wetlands; invasive species;  land use planning; fishing; climate change; stakeholder engagement.

Challenge 2: Monitoring Birds' Habitats and Behaviors

Description: Birds are a key indicator of the health of the environment. Today, global warming is causing milder winters on the continent, causing habitat loss and changing breeding and migratory behaviours of birds. Recent studies show that one-in-eight bird species in Ireland face an extinction threat. Species under greatest threat include iconic birds such as the Curlew, the Corncrake, Barn Owl and the Yellowhammer. Moreover, Ireland has also witnessed a dramatic decline in the number of seabirds and migratory water fowl in Ireland. The main causes of the decline in bird numbers are global warming, intensive farming practices and land development. Furthermore, the drainage of lowland river valleys and upland habitats and the removal of hedges that protected nesting and feeding birds have all contributed to the fall in numbers. Careful ongoing monitoring of bird species and their habitats is crucial to understand the effects of climate change and human activities on birds’ habitats and to plan support measures.

Objectives: Monitoring the effects of climate change on birds’ habitats and behaviors; monitor the effects of human activities (constructions, highways, power plants, sewages, fishing, etc.) on birds’ habitats and behaviours.

Keywords: natural heritage; habitats; birds species; biodiversity; marine life; wetlands; land use planning; fishing; climate change.

Challenge 3: Safeguarding Irish Cultural Heritage

Description: The cultural heritage of Ireland includes monuments, archaeological objects, heritage objects, and architectural heritage, among others. The need to make better use of Ireland’s natural and cultural heritage has never been more pressing. Population flows from rural areas to cities in Ireland are threatening economic development in small communities and without communities of individuals the landscape itself is deteriorating. 

Archaeological sites are eroding because of the increase in storms and rising sea levels. More than 10 per cent of the recorded monuments at Brú na Bóinne, the megalithic site in Co. Meath, are already at risk from floodwaters. Historic bridges, habitats and town walls are also damaged by more extreme temperature. Acknowledging the threats of human activities and climate change on cultural heritage, in November 2018, the Government of Ireland issued the public consultation “Heritage Ireland 2030”. The consultation acknowledged the value of cultural heritage for communities, towns, villages and the countryside as an important economic resource and aimed at building a national heritage framework policy.

To better understand, monitor and address the threats to heritage sites, there is need to understand how climate change will interact with and amplify the effects of other stresses, including urbanisation, pollution, natural resource extraction and, increasingly, tourism.

Objectives: Monitor and forecast flood risks; map and monitor cultural heritage at risk; forecast soil erosion; set monitoring mechanisms and tools to plan interventions and maintenance works; monitor structural integrity of cultural heritage.

Keywords: cultural heritage; coastal erosion; risk management; elevation monitoring; soil movements; sea level forecast; storms; floods; pollution; buildings structural integrity.

Challenge 4: Monitoring the effects of coastal changes on cultural heritage

Description: Ireland has a coastline of approximately 7400 km, hosting a remarkable richness of archaeology, built heritage and traditions. A considerable number of cultural heritage sites on the Irish coast are exposed to flood hazards and coastal erosion. These phenomena, which are mainly due to global warming, increasing storms and sea level rising, threaten the Irish coastal cultural heritage and the economy of local communities, as cultural heritage sites are popular tourist destinations. To give an example of the effects of climate change on coastal cultural heritage, in 2019 heavy storms on the West coast of Ireland caused the Dunbeg Fort in Dingle (Co.Kerry), a promontory fort built in the Iron Age, to partially collapse. Although the effects of climate change on coastal cultural heritage have been widely acknowledged, heritage managers still have little tools to monitor coastal changes, foresee coastal evolution and hence target their adaptation measures.

Objectives: Use the Copernicus dataset to monitor soil and vegetation changes; to monitor and forecast the effects of floods, heavy rain and climate change on cultural heritage around the Irish coastline; to provide cultural heritage managers with tools to effectively target adaptation measures to coastal changes to safeguard cultural heritage.

Keywords: cultural heritage; coastal erosion; risk management; elevation monitoring; vegetation changes; sea level forecast; impacts of sea level rise and storms on the coast; monitoring of changes in beach level; wave height.


  A programme of:                                  Implemented by:        Organiser:                               

  Local partners: 


  Supporting entities: