Geodiversity is a relatively new term that describes the variety of rocks, fossils, minerals, landforms and soil, and all the natural processes that shape the landscape. It is the link between people, landscapes and culture.

Like biodiversity, geodiversity provides immense benefits:

  • Apart from the obvious benefits of providing mineral resources such as sand, gravel, chalk and clay, the diversity of the geology is what shapes the landscape, influencing soils and in turn influencing all of our habitats and wildlife species.
  • Geodiversity also has a cultural role to play, influencing the character of our built environment through building stones, providing inspiration to art, and helping to define where we live and our ‘sense of place’.
  • Learning about geodiversity enables us to understand the evolution and history of the planet, and to interpret present and future processes by reconstructing the past. This is particularly true in Essex, where the record of climate change during the Ice Age is preserved in our pits, quarries and coastal cliffs.

Local Geodiversity Action Plans

Many local authorities are producing Local Geodiversity Action Plans (LGAPs) which set out actions to conserve and enhance the geodiversity of a district. In general an LGAP aims to:

  • Identify, conserve and enhance the best sites that represent the geological history of an area in a scientific, educational, recreational and cultural setting.
  • Promote geological sites and make geoconservation relevant to people.
  • Provide a local geodiversity audit (an audit of sites and skills).
  • Influence local planning policy.

The Essex Local Geodiversity Action Plan

A Local Geodiversity Action Plan (LGAP) has been produced for Essex and can be downloaded by clicking on this link: Essex LGAP

The Essex LGAP sets out a framework for geodiversity action in Essex. It is an essential document to conserve the County’s geodiversity.

Essex Geological Resources – left: local pyrite nodules were the raw material for the 18th century copperas industry in Brightlingsea – the world’s first industrial chemical process – middle: a water-worn cobble of extremely hard, ancient, metamorphic rock with veins of white quartz. It was found in a gravel pit in Chelmsford, but it actually originates in Cornwall – right: the church at Great Bentley, near Colchester, is constructed of ferricrete, one of the few natural building stones found in Essex. Photos © G. Lucy

The UK Geodiversity Action Plan

The UK Geodiversity Action Plan (UKGAP) has been launched and can be seen at: UKGAP

The UKGAP sets out a shared framework for geodiversity action across the UK. It establishes a common aim, themes and targets which link national, regional and local activities. It encompasses how geodiversity can inspire people and what needs to happen to conserve Britain’s geodiversity.

“The only record of the history of our planet lies in the rocks beneath our feet; rocks and the landscape are the memory of the Earth. Here, and only here, is it possible to trace the processes, changes and upheavals which have formed our planet over thousands of millions of years. The more recent part of this record, of course, includes the evolution of life, including Man.

The record preserved in the rocks and landscape is unique, and much of it is surprisingly fragile. Today it is threatened more than ever. What is lost can never be recovered, and therefore there is an urgent need to understand and protect what remains of this our common heritage.”

From Geoheritage in Europe and its conservation – Published by ProGEO 2012.