The 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 (Geoconservation) aims to develop a policy paper for the ATCM detailing research, protection and ongoing management on and in areas of geological, geomorphological and paleontological significance within the Antarctic.