News story

Geodiversity Charter for England launched

Vision unveiled for geodiversity to be recognised as an integral part of our environment, economy and heritage.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Jurassic ammonites from Somerset

Jurassic ammonites from Somerset © Natural History Museum

The Geodiversity Charter is a first for England. It seeks to inspire decision makers and communities to celebrate and take action for our hidden natural heritage. This is the variety of rocks, fossils, minerals, soils, landforms and natural processes that constitute and shape the earth. These consequently directly influence our natural environment, our landscape and both where, and how, we live.

Launched at a Westminster MP briefing opened by Lord de Mauley on 21 October 2014, the charter sets out the clear ambition that geodiversity is recognised as an integral and vital part of our environment, economy and heritage that must be safeguarded and managed for current and future generations.

The Geodiversity Charter has been developed by the English Geodiversity Forum, a partnership of organisations and groups with a shared ambition of:

  • encouraging ‘action’ for geodiversity, promoting and sharing good geoconservation practice
  • raising awareness of geodiversity
  • advocating policy inclusion of geodiversity at all levels

Natural England is one of the forum’s partners and has worked alongside an increasing range of diverse national and local geological organisations and groups such as the Natural History Museum, National Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund as well as aggregate industries in support of the charter.

Speaking at the launch, Natural England’s Chairman, Andrew Sells, summed up what was an historic occasion for geodiversity:

“The fact that we are all here today in Westminster is a very positive sign. I encourage everyone here to play their part and to work with or even join the English Geodiversity Forum in the months ahead. I can assure you that Natural England will play our part in the forum and through continuing to work with our partners and landowners to conserve and manage England’s very special geodiversity”

Natural England is responsible for designating geological sites. We make a direct contribution to the charter’s ambition by achieving and maintaining favourable condition for geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). We also continue to add to the network of geological SSSIs.

England is privileged to be among the most geodiverse places in the world with 700 million years of geological history revealed by our rocks. The white cliffs of Dover, honey coloured Cotswold limestone, granite Dartmoor Tors, rivers, waterfalls and spectacular coasts all reflect this geodiversity. However, geodiversity, is an often overlooked environmental asset.

The charter provides practical guidance on how we can all help raise awareness of geodiversity and our remarkable geodiversity heritage. Ideas include:

  • underground theatre
  • fossil collecting
  • incorporating geodiversity into new development
  • geoplay parks
  • dinosaur exhibitions

It also highlights a number of examples of innovative geodiversity projects in which Natural England is involved:

  • Wrosne: an underground experience - centred around the geological Wren’s Nest National Nature Reserve, the Wrosne project brought young people together from surrounding communities to create an underground performance inspired by the Silurian limestone, quarries and mines of Dudley

  • Sunderland tufa - discovered during the redevelopment of Sunderland North Dock the Sunderland tufa was incorporated into the new buildings and continues to grow today

  • Wheels to the Wild – this 70 mile cycle route in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Global Geopark has been designed around geology and linked to local businesses and cycling facilities

See the English Geodiversity Forum website for further information on the Geodiversity Charter for England.

Published 22 October 2014