By the Inter-Agency Geodiversity Liaison Group
Today (Friday 6 October 2023) is International Geodiversity Day, an annual worldwide celebration and promotion of the many aspects of geodiversity. The day aims to increase understanding and awareness of geodiversity and geoheritage.
To mark the occasion, we have a blog post from the Inter-Agency Geodiversity Liaison Group, which is made of geoscientists from across the statutory nature conservation bodies. In their post, they reflect on the role that geodiversity plays as part of nature, and the value of an inclusive definition of nature.
Geodiversity is the variety of rocks, minerals, fossils, landforms, sediments and soils, together with the natural processes which form and alter them, and as such, is an essential part of nature. Geodiversity determines the location and character of uplands and lowlands, the course of rivers, the nature of our coastlines and the composition of soils. From seabed to mountain top these factors influence the distribution and interaction of habitats and in turn, their associated species. You just need to visit some of our amazing UK landscapes to see this in action. For example, our spectacular upland landscapes are made up of a diverse range of landforms and habitats, including extensive areas of rock, exposed by glaciers, mass movements and glacial processes, and are inhabited by specialist plants and animals able to tolerate the topography, altitude and climate.
The theme of this year’s International Geodiversity Day – 'Geodiversity is for everyone' – reflects that geodiversity is all around us and affects the lives of everyone, wherever they are in the world. Geodiversity provides an understanding of the history of Earth, the development of its climate, and the evolution of life and ecosystems. Geodiversity provides us with the wide range of natural resources and services essential for our existence, also giving us a sense of place, and improving our wellbeing.
As a critical part of nature, geodiversity has a hugely important role to play in nature conservation: it is an essential element of the work of the statutory nature conservation bodies, and has been a key and world-leading component of statutory nature conservation in Great Britain since 1949. Geodiversity essentially forms the 'bedrock' to an integrated nature conservation approach.
Recently, we (the Inter-Agency Geodiversity Liaison Group) have been working with the Chief Scientists’ Group of the statutory nature conservation bodies to promote the use of an inclusive definition of nature in our work, a definition which recognises the role and value of the broader elements of the natural environment and which explicitly incorporates terms such as geodiversity and landscape.
By using and championing comprehensive explanations of what is meant by the term ‘nature’, a multitude of opportunities and benefits are to be gained in our delivery of nature conservation. Through encouraging an integrated, holistic, approach, encompassing every element of the natural environment, we can better understand past, present and future changes in the natural world and the actions we need to take for nature recovery to succeed.
Around the country (and around the world) events are being organised to celebrate International Geodiversity Day. To find out more, and to get involved, visit the International Geodiversity Day website.
You can find out more about the value of an inclusive definition of nature in an article in the latest edition of Earth Heritage.
Image credits: Close-up of limestone pavement (hero image) – © Stewart Campbell; Cwm Idwal, Snowdonia – © Stewart Campbell; limestone pavement landscape – © Michael Dempster; Painting of Giant's Causeway – © John Durham.