Geological conservation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
Before the middle of the twentieth century there were very few geological reserves in Britain and there was no government legislation to protect them. In other countries and especially in the USA, there were many more such sites protected by a number of legislative processes. In nineteenth century Britain most of the land was owned by comparatively few wealthy people and common land was being steadily reduced through increasing numbers of Enclosure Acts. This meant that there were very few opportunities for conservation action especially as there was no legal basis for doing so other than through land ownership. In the USA the situation was completely different. The westward expansion was in full swing resulting in an increasing amount of federal land holdings owned by Congress. This, together with a desire of the federal government to save special sites for future generations, resulted in the extensive National Parks created by statute and the cultural and national monuments protected by the 1906 Preservation of American Antiquities Act. It took another forty years for Britain to have similar legislation.