‘…the protection, active management or interpretation of geodiversity.’
Geological sites and their rocks may look robust, but in many cases they can easily become damaged or destroyed by inappropriate development or activities. The main threats to County Geological Sites are:
Inappropriate development – concealing or destroying the geology (e.g. poorly sited building developments, landfill in disused quarries, and hard coastal defences).
Natural degradation – uncontrolled vegetation encroachment and slumping of faces tend to be the most common.
Irresponsible specimen collecting – collecting of fossils and minerals can be a serious problem in certain areas, and can lead to the partial or complete destruction of a site’s features.
Irresponsible recreational activities – damaged incurred from some recreational activities such as caving and rock climbing. More than 70% of all known cave passages in England are of SSSI designation.
For centuries, Devon's character and landscape have been shaped by the way its stone and mineral resources have been worked and managed by man. Many of the places of geological interest remaining in Devon today result from long established activities of quarrying and mining. In the last fifty years the countryside has changed enormously. Landowners and farmers now seldom make use of the local stone on their land for building. The old quarries found on so many farms and estates are generally abandoned, overgrown and frequently serve only as convenient rubbish tips. Many have been completely filled and obliterated.
Public bodies, including local authorities, have a statutory duty to have regard to the conservation of geological interest. National Indicator 197 is intended to measure the degree to which local authorities are successful in promoting the positive management of non-statutory sites of conservation importance – including County Geological Sites.
NI 197: ‘Improved local biodiversity – proportion of local sites where positive conservation management has been or is being implemented.’
Overall this encourages wider public access and promotes sites for educational purposes.
Once a site has been identified, monitoring is carried out to track the site’s condition, assessing whether it is in positive or negative management (i.e. if the site is kept clear of vegetation and rubbish, allowing easy access and views to the geology). Data is annually collated, and statistics regarding the management of Devon’s County Geological Sites (in accordance to the NI 197) suggest that Devon is being successful at maintaining and safeguarding the local geology and natural environment.
For more information, please see the UKRIGS handbook on conservation designations, plans, and initiatives at the link below: http://www.ukrigs.org.uk/handbook/rhb03.pdf