Conservation at the cutting-edge: the history of geoconservation on the Wren's Nest National Nature Reserve, Dudley, England
Published:January 01, 2008
Colin D. Prosser, Jonathan G. Larwood, 2008. "Conservation at the cutting-edge: the history of geoconservation on the Wren's Nest National Nature Reserve, Dudley, England", The History of Geoconservation, C. V. Burek, C. D. Prosser
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In 1949, nature conservation legislation was passed in Great Britain which enabled areas of land to be declared as National Nature Reserves (NNRs). In 1956, the Wren's Nest, Dudley, a Silurian (Wenlock) limestone hill, internationally famous for its geology and fossil reef faunas, was declared a geological NNR. The combination of internationally important geology, abandoned, unstable and dangerous quarries and mines, and a large adjacent urban population have provided continual conservation challenges. This paper uses contemporary correspondence to describe the deliberations that led to the Wren's Nest being declared as one of the first NNRs in England. It goes on to describe the major management challenges which have arisen. These include instability and collapse of mine workings, fly-tipping, vandalism and heavy recreational use by the local community. It highlights the conservation solutions that have been developed during the 50 year history of the reserve. These have included management of unstable and dangerous ground, cutting of new geological sections, establishment of geology trails, use of volunteers and the strengthening of local community links. The Wren's Nest has also played an important role in raising awareness of the geological heritage within the local planning authority. This has led to the adoption of geoconservation policies and to the development of projects using the area's geological heritage to attract visitors. Today the Wren's Nest remains important for its geology and is also one of the most significant geological reserves in the world for demonstrating the challenges of geoconservation and how they may be overcome. This historical perspective on 50 years in the life of a reserve provides an insight into the innovative geoconservation solutions developed at the Wren's Nest that can be applied elsewhere. Although the Wren's Nest NNR is internationally known for its geology, and has a very high profile in geoconservation, this paper is the first to attempt to explore the thinking and process that led to this abandoned industrial site, in an urban setting, being declared as one of the first NNRs in the UK.
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The History of Geoconservation
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.