UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


Conservation Solutions (STOA)

Conservation Solutions (STOA): Technological Requirements for Solutions in the Conservation and Protection of Historic Monuments and Archaeological Remains

This six-month investigation (June 2001 – November 2001) was carried out at the instigation of the Scientific and Technological Options Assessment Panel of the European Parliament

Download the final project report (PDF)

The report stimulated discussion and debate on European scientific research for cultural heritage Research, including an article in Nature.

Research Outcomes

Investigations carried out as part of the study discovered many achievements associated with EU support for scientific and technological research for the protection and conservation of cultural heritage, namely:

  • An active research community
  • A body of research of unparalleled and enviable international quality and character
  • Ongoing effectiveness of research beyond initial funding
  • Substantial rate of publication
  • Imaginative tools of dissemination and publication
  • Clear spin-offs and contribution to European competitiveness often going outside the European cultural heritage area
  • Contribution to emerging European legislation, for example, air quality management.

The Study also uncovered important research gaps that need investigation. It also discovered the need for continuing fine scale advancement in areas where researchers have been active for a number of years. The overall picture is that European research in the field of cultural heritage protection must be put on a secure footing if it is to maintain its commanding lead over other regions of the world.


The Study concluded that:

  • It would be invidious to separate basic and applied research in this area of research. Like any other scientific endeavour, this field needs to integrate basic and applied research if it is to continue to thrive.
  • Small, flexible, focused interdisciplinary teams responsive to European needs, must be sustained, promoted and celebrated as models of sustainability and that what is proposed under the European Research Area (ERA) for large and complex research projects, could inflict serious damage on this area of research.
  • Resources cannot be delegated to Member States because of the interdisciplinary nature of cultural heritage and the need for a co-ordinated pan-European perspective across this research that helps to define the essential character of European cultural heritage. National programmes only serve local needs, leading to loss of strategic output, lessening of competitiveness and risk of duplication.
  • A mechanism needs to be created to help researchers working in this field to communicate and exchange information with related sectors such as construction, urban regeneration, land reclamation and agriculture.
  • There is overwhelming agreement over the need for sustainable research funding for cultural heritage and for an iterative process of exchange among researchers, decision-makers and end-users in order to maximize benefits from project inception through to dissemination, audit and review.

For these reasons, the most significant recommendation in this Report is recognition of the need for a European Panel on the Application of Science for Cultural Heritage.

The European Parliament's also expressed its views on the report which are reproduced below.

Copyright 2001 Europe Information Service
European Report
October 27, 2001
SECTION: No. 2630
LENGTH: 191 words

The European Parliament's Scientific and Technological Options Assessment panel (STOA) has warned that proposals for the European Research Area could hurt research dedicated to the protection of cultural heritage.

The warning is one of the conclusions of the STOA-led study on the "Technical demands relative to solutions permitting the preservation and protection of historical monuments and archaeological remains." According to the study, the solution would consist of putting into place a European group of experts on the application of the sciences in cultural heritage.

The study indicates that research into cultural heritage should be led in an interdisciplinary manner and on a European level, as the national efforts only serve local needs. It concludes that the activities should integrate applied and fundamental research, and that the communication between the connected sectors (construction, urban regeneration, land re-evaluation, agriculture, etc.) must be improved if this area of study is to progress.

Download the final project report (PDF)


Professor May Cassar, Centre for Sustainable Heritage
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