Geodiversity, geoheritage and geotourism

Salisbury Crags with Edinburgh Castle

BGS works with local authorities, National Parks, landscape partnerships and geoconservation groups to conduct audits of Scotland's local geological assets. We collaborate with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) on the strategic assessment of the value and state of Scotland's geodiversity to help develop the basis for a national policy framework on geodiversity. We also work with the Scottish Geoparks in raising awareness of Scotland's geological heritage and promoting geotourism.

Oblique aerial view of Dunbar, looking from the west north west

Scotland's Geodiversity Charter

The Charter recognises Scotland's geodiversity as an integral and vital part of our environment, economy, heritage and future sustainable development. It is to be safeguarded and managed appropriately for this and future generations.

For its size, Scotland has an outstanding geodiversity: our rocks, landforms, soils and natural processes reflect some three billion years of the Earth's existence. This geodiversity is the vital bedrock of life, providing essential benefits for society through its profound influence on landscape, habitats and species, the economy, historical and cultural heritage, education, health and well-being.

We live in a dynamic environment where climate change may see greater risk from flooding, rising sea levels, coastal erosion and landslides. Understanding these natural processes is a vital part of enabling us to successfully manage and adapt to change.

The Geodiversity Charter

  • summarises the importance and value of Scotland's geodiversity
  • highlights the need for action
  • presents a shared vision for Scotland's geodiversity

The Charter also provides guidance to the various sectors on what needs to be done to achieve this vision. It is the the work of the Scottish Geodiversity Forum, with support from the Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage, BGS and GeoConservationUK.

Scotland's Geodiversity Charter was launched in 2012 and revised in April 2013.

Map of geodiversity sites identified by BGS since 2007

Geodiversity auditing

Geodiversity audits identify, describe and evaluate the important geological features and landforms in a given region, providing an important resource for planning, environmental management and education.

Over 300 geodiversity sites have been identified across Scotland in the past seven years. The audited sites include picturesque erosional coastlines where the violent volcanic history of the region can be read in the relationships between sedimentary rocks, lava flows and welded fragments blasted through volcanic pipes during explosive eruptions around 300 million years ago. Elsewhere, the development of soils and early plants on 360 million year old river flood plains, perhaps the first land in the world to be walked upon by four-legged animals (tetrapods), are recorded in the layered strata of sedimentary rocks.

The geodiversity has also supplied East Lothian's natural harbours and resources, including building stone and coal, underpinning its economy since medieval times and contributing to the unique character of the regions towns and villages.

In the most recent audit 24.16 MB pdf (conducted in 2014) a BGS team, assisted by Lothian and Borders GeoConservation, conducted field assessments of 30 geodiversity sites in East Lothian for East Lothian Council.

Organisations that have agreed to support Scotland's Geodiversity Charter


Contact Hugh Barron for more information.