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Abstract

The Isle of Wight on the south coast of England has near continuous exposures of Early Cretaceous to Early Oligocene and Quaternary deposits and has long been regarded as a classic area of British geology. It has a long history of study dating back to the start of the nineteenth century. The identified threats to geoconservation are coastal erosion, coastal protection schemes aimed at preventing erosion and fossil collecting. Of these, however, erosion and collecting can also be seen as opportunities. Geology has influenced tourism since the eighteenth century which subsequently promoted both interpretation and conservation. Collecting of geological specimens for museum collections is documented as early as 1825. Site-based conservation began in 1951 with the notification of geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and Regionally Important Geological/geomorphological Sites (RIGS) have been notified since the mid 1990s. There has been a voluntary set of guidelines for fossil collecting and more recently the preparation of a Local Geodiversity Action Plan (LGAP) brought together diverse groups and individuals to begin developing a strategic approach to interpreting and conserving the island's geological heritage. The main outcome of the LGAP process has been to develop a partnership with a view to applying for membership of the European Geoparks Network.

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