Geoconservation in the west of Scotland south of Highland Region is covered by two groups affiliated to the Geological Society of Glasgow. These are Strathclyde Geoconservation and Geoconservation: Argyll and the Islands.
The volunteeer members of these groups work with local authorities and other partners to gain Local Geodiversity Site (LGS) designations for the most important sites outside specially protected nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), to ensure their protection for present and future generations. The groups work to raise awareness of earth science and landscape features and the important role geodiversity has as a foundation for biodiversity. Geoconservation groups seek to increase understanding and enjoyment of geological heritage through publications and interpretation of sites and trails and at occasional events.
Geoconservation involves the identification and care of sites which make a special contribution to our Earth heritage and which can illustrate the processes which formed the planet. Some sites are also important for economic and cultural heritage, such as former mine or quarry workings.
Geodiversity describes the geological variety of an area including rocks, fossils, minerals, sediments and soils as well as landforms and natural processes such as erosion and landslips. Some of these processes may still be active. Geodiversity is the foundation of all our ecosystems. It helps in the understanding and enjoyment of the natural environment, and is an important consideration in decision making for the future.
There are many threats to our geological heritage. Mining and quarrying can reveal clues in the rocks that are freshly exposed, but excavations can also destroy evidence or make places unsafe to visit. Other potential threats are new construction developments, fly-tipping and planned landfill and afforestation. Some geodiversity sites are likely to be affected by future sea level rise: see this SNH report. Once geodiversity is destroyed, that particular story can never be retold.
Scotland’s Geodiversity Charter was launched in 2012 and has gathered significant support from organisations, authorities and businesses. It is now in its second edition to cover 2018-2023, Find out more here
The former Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites (RIGS) are now known in Scotland as Local Geodiversity Sites (LGS) but the term RIGS may still be seen. LGS represent the most important sites outside specially protected nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), and are designated to ensure their protection for present and future generations. Such sites can promote enjoyment and understanding of earth science heritage and form a significant part of geodiversity audits and bio- and geodiversity action plans at local authority level.