The concept of geological heritage in a global perspective

Category Other
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Bobrowsky, Peter۱; Nowlan, Godfrey۲; Clague, John۳; Rutter, Nat۴
Holding Date 09 September 2008

Our appreciation for the relevance and importance of geological heritage has grown in recent years. The concept of geological heritage defies a restricitve definition, and currently this encompasses a broad range of beliefs, activities, initiatives and efforts which are expressed through an equally diverse number of organizations, societies, groups and individuals. Herein we review the diversity of efforts and representatives involved in the concept of geological heritage using examples from around the world.
Notably, one of the most visible and viable efforts has been the development of the UNESCO Global Network of GeoParks Platform. Since the official launch in 2004, a total of 53 geoparks from 17 different countries have been designated. The associated International Conference on Geoparks has been held in Beijing (2004), Belfast (2006) and Osnabrueck (2008). The UNESCO GeoPark designation complements the UNESCO World Heritage List (presently 851 properties of which 168 are natural and 25 mixed/cultural sites) and the World Network of Bioshpere Reserves. A key player in the World Heritage List efforts is the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) which vets submissions proposed for this protected designation. The IUCN National Committee for Canada was officially recognized in October 2001.
Closely allied to the UNESCO GeoPark Platform is the European GeoPark Network (EGN) which was established in 2000 and now comprises 31 European zones and 13 member nations. Currently there are 32 European GeoParks from 11 countries. Two NGOs play prominent roles in geoheritage issues: the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) and the International Geographical Union (IGU). Both Unions provide umbrella representation for a suite of organizations and societies that in some manner relate to geoheritage. For instance, the European Association for the Conservation of the Geological Heritage (ProGEO) has a mission to promote the conservation of Europe’s rich heritage of landscape, rock, fossil and mineral sites. Other groups promote geoheritage awareness through tourism including the Geological Society of America (GSA) through GeoVentures and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) field education through GeoTours.
The focus of Geoheritage issues is promising for the Earth Sciences as long as we can overcome the competing terminology (Geosites, GeoParks, Geotopes, parks and so on) as well as the competing objectives (education, conservation, protection and tourism).