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Abstract

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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