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Advances in Quaternary studies and geomorphology in Scotland: implications for geoconservation

  • John E. GORDON (a1), Vanessa BRAZIER (a2), Jim D. HANSOM (a3) and Alan WERRITTY (a4)

Abstract

Quaternary deposits and landforms are an integral component of Scotland's geodiversity and natural heritage with intrinsic, scientific, educational, cultural, aesthetic and ecological values. Their conservation is founded on the assessment and safeguard of key protected areas principally for their scientific values. The evaluation of site networks for Quaternary deposits and landforms (including glacial, fluvial, coastal, mass movement, karst and cave features) has evolved since the late 1940s, culminating in the Great Britain Geological Conservation Review (GCR) site assessments undertaken principally between 1977 and the early 1990s. Significant scientific progress since then has arisen, for example, from re-investigation of existing sites and discoveries of new sites, developments in geochronology and the formulation and application of new concepts and models. Both the GCR site lists and the supporting site documentation now require updating in the light of this progress. Today there is greater emphasis on the wider, non-scientific values of geoconservation including, for example, on ecosystem services, links with biodiversity and cultural heritage, geotourism and the benefits for human health and wellbeing through improved understanding of dynamic landscapes, climate change and natural hazards. Involvement of wider public support beyond the geoscience community and fostering better integration of geoheritage within the developing nature conservation agenda, including a land systems approach, protected area planning and management, natural capital and connecting people and nature, will help further to protect our Quaternary geoheritage.

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