North York Moors1

Geodiversity (rocks, fossils, minerals, landforms, landscapes, geological processes and soils) is a fundamental environmental asset but it is one of the least recognised and valued. Britain is one of the most geodiverse countries in the world; this diversity provides us with the varied landforms, habitats and building stones that make up the landscapes that contribute to our national character and cultural identity. Conserving geodiversity is about recognising the links between geology, soils, natural processes, habitats and landscapes and managing the environment in a more integrated manner.

If we are to reach our goal of sustainable development, understanding and taking account of geodiversity will be crucial. Many of the processes that created England’s mineral wealth, landscapes and soils operate over millions of years and these resources cannot be renewed within a human timeframe, if at all. Research should be used to find the most effective ways to carefully manage coastal processes, mineral deposits, fossil fuels and building materials and search for alternatives.

A journey back through 700 million years of geological time reads like a road map of Britain with internationally recognised periods of geological time such as the Devonian and the Oxfordian reflecting the global relevance of the role played by British geologists in helping unlock our geological past and to better understand environmental change, such as the challenges of climate change we face in the future.

England’s geodiversity faces challenges from

  • Coastal protection and development that conceals valuable geological exposures and disrupts the natural processes that helped create them
  • Inappropriate development such as building on river flood plains
  • Loss of limestone pavements and cave systems to mineral extraction
  • Loss of valuable quarry exposures to landfill or industrial development
  • Neglect of landscape features such as dry-stone walls and vernacular buildings
  • Poorly planned tree plantations that can obscure and destroy rare geological formations like limestone pavements
  • Contamination of soils through pollution

Related wikipedia content Edit


  • Natural Foundations, published jointly by English Nature, the Countryside Agency and Rural Development Service, September 2006, English Nature press release

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