Scotland has a tremendous ‘geodiversity’, the essential abiotic part of nature: rocks, landforms, sediments and soils, and the processes which form and alter them. Angus Miller, Chair of the Scottish Geodiversity Forum, tells us more.
Scotland is widely, and quite rightly, recognised as the birthplace of modern geology, the study of the Earth, where many new ideas about the geological processes fashioning the crust of our planet were first demonstrated. But the story of Scotland, its geology and wider geodiversity, is not just about the past, it is also about how and where we live now, about the character of our landscapes, cities, towns and villages and about how we will cope with future changes brought by climate change.
Scotland’s Geodiversity Charter highlights the importance of geodiversity to Scotland, not just in its own right, but in its contribution to the environment, the economy, to cultural heritage and to future development. When the Charter was drawn up in 2012, it was the first of its kind internationally. Similar Charters have since been developed for other nations in the UK. In the last five years, the Charter has inspired and contributed to many successful projects that have celebrated our amazing geodiversity, and many positive steps have been taken to protect and manage important locations.
Much of this work involves Charter signatories working in partnership. For example, survey work carried out by Lothian and Borders GeoConservation with the support of City of Edinburgh Council, West Lothian Council and the British Geological Survey has identified sites with interesting geological exposures, that allow local people and visitors to fully appreciate the geodiversity of the area. These sites are now incorporated in Local Development Plans so that planners and local people are aware of their importance, and work is underway to promote the sites and tell people more about them.
Celebrating Scotland’s geodiversity is very much at the heart of the Charter, and another case study illustrates how this can be done in imaginative ways involving island communities and a range of small partner organisations. In 2014 and 2015, two sailing voyages on the west coast of Scotland paid homage to the great writer and geologist Hugh Miller (1802-1056). The crews involved were a rich mix of backgrounds and ages, enabling exploration of the many links between the geology of the area, Hugh Miller’s writing, and local communities past and present. These journeys were followed by a new writing competition which invited new poetry and prose inspired by Miller’s writing. The 2nd Hugh Miller Writing Competition is now under way, inviting entries by 15 April 2018.
Scotland’s Geodiversity Charter is now being refreshed for the next five years, with new case studies that demonstrate what has to be done in different sectors to take forward the vision of the Charter. The launch takes place at a conference at Dynamic Earth on Thursday 16 November, and the revised Charter now has the support of 82 organisations large and small from across Scotland. These organisations will be working together to deliver the vision of the Charter, so that geodiversity can continue to contribute to our environment, economy and society into the future.