The origins of geoconservation cannot be investigated without first defining its scope. This presents a problem because there is no established working definition of the field. By using the Giant's Causeway as a case study, useful parameters were identified revealing great complexity. They embrace initial curiosity, scientific communication, mythology, access issues, the involvement of national scientific institutions, controversial but ultimately successful iconography, the invention of new artistic conventions, dissemination by engraving, scientific reaction, rekindling of a fundamental geological controversy, tourism, popular literature, modes of transport, commercialization, additions to fundamental science, designation history and historic associations of the site. Other sites are similarly complex and assist in refining the scope. Sites are seen as the principal resource but on analysis achieve their status from what they reveal or the importance of the materials they yield, in turn spotlighting the major museum collections. These are now well documented though not all are secure. It was not the scientific imperative that established the first public designation but an impassioned delight in unspoiled nature which three men, two Americans, Henry Thoreau and George Marsh but especially the Scots environmentalist, John Muir, projected carefully into the attuned ear of the US President. This brief overview closes with the revelation of neglected areas of heritage, paths that geoconservation could have taken and still may and suggests how earlier definitions could be elevated into a more specific and holistic geoconservation strategy.
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This book is the first to describe the history of geoconservation. It draws on experience from the UK, Europe and further afield, to explore topics including: what is geoconservation; where, when and how did it start; who was responsible; and how has it differed across the world? Geological and geomorphological features, processes, sites and specimens, provide a resource of immense scientific and educational importance. They also form the foundation for the varied and spectacular landscapes that help define national and local identity as well as many of the great tourism destinations. Mankind’s activities, including contributing to enhanced climate change, pose many threats to this resource: the importance of safeguarding and managing it for future generations is now widely accepted as part of sustainable development. Geoconservation is an established and growing activity across the world, with more participants and a greater profile than ever before. This volume highlights a history of challenges, set-backs, successes and visionary individuals and provides a sound basis for taking geoconservation into the future.