SEAHA Centre for Doctoral Training


Jennifer Richards

DPhil student, University of Oxford

Project Title 

Learning from nature:  evaluating site-based conservation approaches to mitigating climatic risks to earthen heritage sites in N W China

Background & Summary of Project

Earthen heritage sites are among the oldest types of cultural heritage sites in the world. These sites, which can be over thousand years old, are degrading rapidly and this loss of heritage is projected to increase with climate change. This project aims to address the fact that there is little consensus and a lack of long term research for earthen heritage conservation, with some conservation strategies even increasing the rate of degradation.

We will use fieldwork at the ancient city of Suoyang, located on the Silk Road in North West China, to investigate the relationship between patterns of degradation and microclimatic and environmental conditions. 



Richards, J. Bailey, R., Mayaud, J., Viles, H., Guo, Q. & Wang, X., Deterioration risk of dryland earthen heritage sites facing future climatic uncertainty, Scientific Reports 10 (2020) 16419. 

Richards, J., Viles, H. & Guo, Q., The importance of wind as a driver of earthen heritage deterioration in dryland environmentsGeomorphology 369 (2020) 107363. 

Richards, J., et al., Effect of substrate type on diatom-based water quality assessments in the Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia, Hydrobiologia, 847:14 (2020), p. 3077-3090. 

Richards, J., Mayaud, J., Zhan, H., Wu, F., Bailey, R., and Viles, H., Modelling the risk of deterioration at earthen heritage sites in drylandsEarth Surface Processes and Landforms (2020) 

Tibby, J., Richards, J., Tyler, J., Barr, C., Fluin, J. and Goonan, P. (2019) Diatom-water quality thresholds in South Australia in streams indicate the need for more stringent water quality guidelines. Marine and Freshwater Research.

Richards, J., Orr, S.A. and Viles, H.A. (2019) Reconceptualising the relationships between heritage and environment within an Earth System Science framework. Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development.

Richards, J., Zhao, G., Zhang, H. and Viles, H. (2019) A controlled field experiment to investigate the deterioration of earthen heritage by wind and rain. Heritage Science, 7, 51.

Tibby, J., Barr, C., Marshall, J.C., Richards, J., Perna, C., Fluin, J. and Cadd, H.R. (2019) Assessing the relative impacts of land‐use change and river regulation on Burdekin River (Australia) floodplain wetlands. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.

Richards, J., Wang, Y., Orr, S.A. and Viles, H. (2018) Finding Common Ground between United Kingdom Based and Chinese Approaches to Earthen Heritage Conservation. Sustainability, 10(9).

Richards, Jenny., Josep Grau-Bove., Robyn Parker and Heather Viles. (2022). "How to run a mobile heritage science engagement event: A practical toolkit."