Geological Heritage and Geoconservation Action Group

Ventifact Knobs McMurdo Dry Valleys DWynn WilliamsThe term geological heritage (or ‘geo-heritage’) can be applied to natural geological or geomorphological features possessing aesthetic, intrinsic or scientific and educational value, and that provide unique insight into geological processes affecting the formation or evolution of the Earth. With improving accessibility to Antarctica, the need for recognition, protection and management of geo-heritage sites is becoming increasingly important.  Environmental protection and conservation practise in the Antarctic is managed by provisions contained within the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. Whilst these provisions have been used primarily to protect sites of biological or cultural significance, sites of geological or geomorphological significance may also be considered. However, to date, sites of geological and geomorphological significance have not received the same attention as sites protecting other values, leaving much scope to improve protection of Antarctica’s geological heritage.

The SCAR Action Group on Geological Heritage and Geo-conservation is comprised of Antarctic Earth Science and Protected Area specialists from around the globe.  The group will consider emerging concerns on the recognition, protection and ongoing management of geological and geomorphological sites of significance within the Antarctic and develop a policy paper detailing its findings for submission to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting’s Committee for Environmental Protection.
 
There will be a meeting of the Action Group as part of the XXXIV Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research meeting, to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2016.