The World Heritage Convention, 1972, which aims to promote and support the conservation of the world's cultural and natural heritage, can be considered one of the world's most successful international treaties as it has been adopted by 184 states. However, for very many states it is primarily a way in which places that they consider to be their most important heritage sites and monuments can gain additional international recognition through inscription on the World Heritage List. Though geological interest is one of the major criteria for inscription on the World Heritage List, in practice relatively few sites have been inscribed wholly or partly because of their geological or geomorphological importance, (just 72 out of the current 851 World Heritage sites). Further, the present list of geological inscriptions is very uneven and unrepresentative of geological periods and Earth processes, and localities of key significance in the history of geology are almost absent. One weakness is that, although there is some professional geological advice through the World Conservation Union (one of the two official advisory bodies to the World Heritage Committee) there is no mechanism through which international geological science or history of geology organizations can contribute to the development of world heritage policies and the evaluation of nominations to the World Heritage List. However, the greatest problem is that most countries are not evaluating and nominating their national geological heritage. The geological community needs to become much more active in promoting geological conservation and nominations to the World Heritage Committee at the national level.
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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.