Geoconservation

Cliffs of the South Gower Coast, Wales. A site of international renown for its geology and geomorphology @ Stewart Campbell

The most accepted term used today for what is also known as geological and geomorphological conservation or Earth heritage conservation is geoconservation. It concerns the conservation of our non-living natural environment – our geodiversity.

 

Geodiversity takes in the natural range of geological (rocks, minerals, fossils), geomorphological (landforms, landscape-shaping processes) and soil features. Some people extend the definition of geodiversity to include the built (stone) heritage and historical literature. 

 

Geoconservation is an integral part of JNCC’s statutory functions, and we have played an important role in co-ordinating UK geodiversity conservation work.  Our work in this area currently centres on the provision and management of scientific information about sites which are conserved for their scientific value as geological SSSIs through the Geological Conservation Review (GCR) programme.

 

Some of the concepts of geoconservation are still being developed, in particular those related to the wider-landscape and climate-change. More discussion and debate will be needed before these developing concepts can be turned into practical applications. However, in some areas a good deal has been achieved by the country agencies and by JNCC.  They include the application of landscape characterisation to biodiversity conservation, which links biodiversity and geodiversity. 

 

A number strands of work are already active through JNCC and the country agencies are:

 

  • The development of the UK Geodiversity Action Plan (UKGAP), to be published and managed at http://www.ukgap.org.uk/
  • Contributing to and facilitating the debate about climate change and its impact on geoconservation, including the role of geology in combating adverse climate change
  • Advising on UK marine geoconservation and on aspects of marine and coastal bioconservation based on Earth science information
  • Assessing geodiversity in the UK’s Overseas Territories and advising on its conservation 
  • Maintaining the Geological Conservation Review database and information resource, which is the foundation of British Sites of Special Scientific Interest,  UK Geoparks and geo-World Heritage sites and underpins our ability to offer UK geoconservation advice.