Geoheritage

The vision of the Geoheritage Expert Group (GhEG) of EuroGeoSurveys is proper sustainable management of geoheritage as part of Europe’s natural heritage, and the development of a European geoconservation platform to better serve the needs of society. Our mission is to share the knowledge and expertise of the national and regional geological surveys active in geoconservation. This is done in collaboration with other public administrations and non-governmental organizations in order to improve the quantity and quality of geoheritage inventories and the sustainable use of this resource.

Today, geoscientific studies, geological education and geological tourism (geotourism) demand access to precise information on geological sites of interest (geosites). Geoheritage inventories allow (1) improved access to more and better quality geosites, (2) a better use of their scientific, educational and touristic potential, (3) proper management for their conservation as part of natural heritage, (4) to help prevent and reduce damage to geosites, which are a non-renewable natural resource, and (5) a better land use and infrastructure planning for proper development. As such, knowledge on geoheritage has the potential to improve the quality of life and to allow a better and more sustainable future for all. In addition, geoheritage is also essential for fundamental research, education and geotourism.

The collection, interpretation and update of geological data and knowledge on geoheritage is an important task of geological surveys. In doing so, we address the needs of wider society and public authorities. The production of this data and its associated knowledge may be time-consuming, resource-intensive and expensive. However, there is a high benefit-cost ratio for the geoheritage inventories provided by geological surveys.

During the last decades, geoconservation has gradually become an applied Earth science and academic knowledge field. The need to select the geological sites and collections that are useful for science, education or tourism, and the need to preserve them for future generations, has led to the identification of a crucial knowledge gap: We need to know what we have, how relevant and vulnerable it is, and what we should do for its proper sustainable management.

The approval of UNESCO World Heritage sites based on criterion viii, or of UNESCO Global Geopark proposals, demands reliable information on the international significance of the geoheritage. European geological surveys have the experience and know-how for these and other geoconservation-related activities. EuroGeoSurveys can be used to share this expertise to better serve regional, national and European needs.

Map of the 81 geoparks forming part of the European Geoparks Network as of April 2021 (www.europeangeoparks.org). The international relevance of geoheritage is a requirement of UNESCO for the approval and declaration of Global Geoparks.

 

 

 

 

Climate change also affects geoheritage and must be considered in nature management plans. Modified after J. Vegas (2020) online workshop about “Geoheritage on volcanic islands”. Watch the YouTube video, here.