Engaging with geodiversity — why it matters | 2010 Conference report

Roseanna Cunningham, MSP, Minister for Environment, introduces the conference

Professor Iain Stewart, Dr Diarmad Campbell, BGS Chief Geologist Scotland, and Dr Richard Bevins, Keeper of Geology National Museum of Wales

Iain Stewart presenting

On 1 December 2010, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, (RSGS), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), British Geological Survey (BGS) and the British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) held a joint conference on geodiversity at Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.

Conference abstracts

Download the conference abstracts

Conference objectives

To explore the concept of geodiversity, its relationship to biodiversity, and its integration in ecosystem services, planning, tourism and education.

The opening address was given by Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Minister for Environment.


The presentations listed below will be made available as and when we get permission to publish them:

  • Scotland's geodiversity and why it matters to Scotland's people (Iain Stewart, TV presenter and University of Plymouth)
  • Geodiversity and landscape sensitivity: international and Scottish perspectives (Mike Thomas, University of Stirling)
  • River processes, catchment management and ecosystem services in a changing climate (Andrew Black, Wallingford HydroSolutions Ltd and University of Dundee)
  • Coastal processes, management and ecosystem services in a changing climate (Jim Hansom, University of Glasgow) and Alistair Rennie, SNH
  • Geodiversity, biodiversity and landscape in a changing climate (Des Thompson, John Gordon and Sally Johnson, SNH)
  • Soils, geodiversity and ecosystem services — the value of developing a more integrated approach (Colin Campbell, Macaulay Land Use Research Institute)
  • Valuing geodiversity in an ecosystem services context (Murray Gray, Queen Mary, University of London)
  • Education and raising public awareness of geodiversity (Stuart Monro, Scientific Director, Our Dynamic Earth)
  • Geotourism' — not just rocks and panels (Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director, North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty & European Geopark)
  • Geodiversity — the Central Scotland Green Network, health and wellbeing (Simon Rennie, Head of the Central Scotland Green Network Support Unit)
  • Integrating geodiversity and landscape management within the Cairngorms National Park (Matthew Hawkins, Cairngorms National Park Authority)
  • Geodiversity and the role of the planning system in Scotland (Mike Browne, Chair, GeoConservationUK)
  • Towards a geodiversity framework for Scotland (John Gordon, SNH and Hugh Barron, BGS)

Outcomes of the day

Iain Stewart, BBC TV presenter and Professor of Geoscience Communication, University of Plymouth said:

'I just wanted to say a big thanks you for the geodiversity meeting the other day. It was a really first-class event — well targeted and with a really strong set of presentations and made me appreciate the vital importance of embedding our geological knowledge into the wider biodiversity policy framework initiatives.

As geoscientists, we rather take for granted the fact that we have arguably the finest range of geodiversity, and some of the most important geological sites, in the world, and that this is a natural heritage worthy of respect and protection. Equally, there is a tendency for us to underplay the vital role that rocks and related resources serve in underpinning the economic livelihood of the nation.

The conference emphasised to me that both these messages need to be strongly communicated to the highest levels of government if effective policies addressing climate change, energy security, environmental stewardship and wealth creation are to be put in place. Geology, it seems to me, is the bedrock to the long-term and sustainable management of our natural environment.
Many thanks again for a stimulating day!'

Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director, North Pennines AONB Partnership, said:

'This was a tremendous coming together of those working to put a love of Earth Heritage in the hearts of people everywhere, and to give that heritage the place in public policy that it deserves.'

Robina Barton, Geopark Officer, Geopark Shetland said:

'It was a brilliant event and well worth coming down from Shetland for. I learned a lot and it felt like the beginning of a really positive movement to raise the profile of geodiversity both politically and among the wider public. I hope that we can capitalize on that, perhaps through the establishment of an all encompassing Scottish Geodiversity Forum.
Since joining Lochaber and North West Highlands as a member of the European Geoparks Network in 2009, we in Geopark Shetland are keen to develop links with the others working in the field of Scottish geology. The conference provided a great opportunity for me to discover more about what others are doing and to join them in raising the profile of Scotland's amazing geodiversity.'

Richard Bevins, National Museum of Wales said:

'I found the meeting both stimulating and timely. I have been concerned for some time about the undervalue that our geological heritage receives and here in Wale. There is a clear parallel activity in Scotland, which I find very re-assuring, and I'm sure we can learn from and support each other in this task.

The meeting was very timely given the 'Ecosystem Services' discussions here in Wales (and elsewhere), and the Museum has been asked to respond to a Welsh Assembly Government consultation paper entitled 'A Living Wales — a new framework for our environment, our countryside and our seas', which focuses on Ecosystem Services'. The conference has helped me enormously in shaping my thoughts for our response.'

Nick Spedding, University of Aberdeen said:

'Just a quick note to say thanks again for yesterday's meeting — I didn't necessarily agree with everything that was said, but it was I think the most interesting and enjoyable conference I've been to in years.'

Bruce Gittings, University of Edinburgh and Royal Scottish Geographical Society said:

'I was very impressed by the enthusiasm generated at the recent geodiversity conference. Through its soon-to-open geographical education centre in Perth, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society is committed to promoting Scotland's rich geo-heritage to the general public and to ensure that the geosciences in their broadest sense occupy their natural position and be central to the school curriculum.'

Dr Eleanor Brown, Natural England said:

'It was a very valuable opportunity to network with other geodiversity professionals and debate key issues which are central to taking geodiversity forward in the 21st century. I am so glad I made the effort even given the challenging weather conditions!
Diarmad Campbell, BGS Chief Geologist for Scotland said:

'Congratulations to John Gordon (SNH), Hugh Barron (BGS), Jim Hansom (University of Glasgow) and Mike Thomas (University of Stirling) for organising such a successful conference, and for bringing together such a diverse group. Despite the varied interests they represented, there was an extraordinary consensus amongst the speakers and the audience as to the need to take positive steps to safeguard our geodiversity.'


The conference organisers are grateful for the generous sponsorship from Scottish Power and Tarmac Ltd.

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Contact Hugh Barron for further information.