The palaeobotanical beginnings of geological conservation: with case studies from the USA, Canada and Great Britain
Barry A. Thomas, 2005. "The palaeobotanical beginnings of geological conservation: with case studies from the USA, Canada and Great Britain", History of Palaeobotany: Selected Essays, A.J. Bowden, C.V. Burek, R. Wilding
Download citation file:
The need to conserve geological features and palaeontological sites is an increasingly recognized part of conservation policy in many countries. In the USA, Canada and Great Britain this need was emphasized by the discovery in the 19th century of spectacular plant fossils that were in danger of disappearing through overcollecting or through the effects of weathering. People were spurred into action by these all too obvious dangers to save the plant fossils where they had been found as ‘monuments’ or ‘records of the past’. The methodology for protection varied from one country to another through differences in both land ownership and legislation. The backgrounds to the discoveries, the reasons for their conservation, and the methods employed for their protection are outlined and discussed.
Figures & Tables
Often regarded as the ‘Cinderella’ of palaeontological studies, palaeobotany has a history that contains some fascinating insights into scientific endeavour, especially by palaeontologists who were perusing a personal interest rather than a career. The problems of maintaining research facilities in universities, especially in the modern era, are described and reveal a noticeable absence of a national UK strategy to preserve centres of excellence in an avowedly specialist area. Accounts of some of the pioneers demonstrate the importance of collaboration between taxonomists and illustrators. The importance of palaeobotany in the rise of geoconservation is outlined, as well as the significant and influential role of women in the discipline. Although this volume has a predominantly UK focus, two very interesting studies outline the history of palaeobotanical work in Argentina and China.