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An Assessment of disaster risk management in a world heritage site in Turkey: the case of Bergama

Aygün Gürsoy, Aslı
The number of disasters in the world is increasing each year due to various natural, human-induced, and climate change-induced hazards such as earthquakes, floods, fires, and many others. Hence, cultural heritage sites, which are unrenewable resources, are under destructive effects of such disasters. In order to safeguard heritage places that are threatened, international studies have been accelerated in recent years. A manual entitled 'Managing Disaster Risks for World Heritage' was prepared by UNESCO, ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN in 2010 in order to define disaster risk management process for World Heritage Sites. Due to its historical and cultural richness, Turkey possesses cultural heritage places, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, since the country is prone to disasters, these cultural assets are exposed to various natural, human-induced, and climate change-induced threats. Risks threatening cultural heritage have to be managed through effective management strategies in order to safeguard the cultural richness of the country. Accordingly, a thorough assessment of disaster risk management in a world heritage site in Turkey based on international standards in the above-mentioned manual is crucial for understanding areas that need to be strengthened for effective disaster risk management of cultural heritage. vi Following the approaches of the manual for World Heritage Sites, this study aims to test the applicability of the manual in the context of Turkey through assessing the disaster risk management in a World Heritage Site; Bergama and Its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape. Within the scope of the study, risks threatening the case study area are identified and existing systems, tools and mechanisms of the cultural heritage disaster risk management processes (identification, prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery) are examined. Addressing the roles and responsibilities of public institutions in Turkey, the integration of disaster risk management for cultural heritage in the existing disaster risk management systems is proposed. As risk assessment and effective risk management requires collecting and processing extensive amount of data related to hazards, and vulnerabilities of cultural assets, risk databases should be developed through the collaboration of responsible organizations in Turkey.