Plugging the GAP

Developments in conserving our geological


Volume 10 of the GCR has been in print for some time. However, JNCC has now commissioned work to convert the contents of the volume to a form suitable for publishing online at

Geodiversity as a word is as yet unfamiliar to most people, but it is gaining ground. In essence, it means the natural range (‘-diversity’) of geological, geomorphological and soil features (that’s the ‘geo-’ part). JNCC continues to help conserve geodiversity through various contributions, and is developing its own geoconservation strategy, which we will report in a future issue of Nature News.


In previous editions of Nature News we highlighted JNCC’s efforts in recording the most scientifically important geodiversity sites in Great Britain as part of the Geological Conservation Review (GCR) programme. The GCR has two main strands. Firstly, publication in book form and on the web of site reports that enable us to justify SSSI status of geodiversity sites. The second strand is in keeping our site lists, and knowledge about our conserved sites, up-to-date.


The GCR continues to be a ‘golden thread’ that runs through geoconservation work in Britain. With 34 of the 45 GCR volumes already produced in book form, and with 16 of those published volumes available freely on line at, we can demonstrate our effectiveness at justifying and publicising the scientific case for conserving GCR sites. Work is now being completed on providing another four GCR volumes on-line – two further Jurassic volumes (‘Middle’ and ‘Lower’, including descriptions of World Heritage Site localities), a volume on fossil reptiles, and one detailing our most important karst (limestone scenery) and caves sites. Progress on completing the remaining 11 GCR volumes is well advanced. All of this proves that we are well placed to justify our geoconservation activity in Britain.


Building a UK Geodiversity Action Plan
Building on the GCR work, we are now involved in helping to construct a UK Geodiversity Action Plan (UKGAP), which will form a framework that embraces geoconservation not only nationally, but also regionally and locally. The UKGAP provides a shared context and direction for geoconservation. The UKGAP will facilitate partnership, influence decision- and policy-makers and funding bodies, and promote good practice that favours our geodiversity. A prototype website has just been launched and will be developed over time, acting as a focus for celebrating geodiversity, demonstrating the actions we need to take and capturing the actions as they happen.


JNCC is also working on geoconservation in the Overseas Territrories and Crown Dependencies, with a report about to be published on our geoconservation goals in those areas. Similarly, work is underway to ensure that marine geodiversity is not ignored.

Geodiversity and climate change

Climate change as a topic is rarely out of our minds these days, and the relevance of geodiversity in the whole debate is about to be considered in a meeting later this year. At this stage the thinking is very much exploratory, but we hope that it will inform planning for the future. The day-long event will be held at the University of Chester on 4 June 2009 and will examine:

  • the impacts of climate change and how they will affect sites that are valued for their geological and geomorphological interests;
  • the implications for the future management of sites; and, in particular,
  • how geomorphological processes in the wider landscape will adapt under this changing regime.


We will report on how geodiversity conservation is developing in a future issue of Nature News. It will undoubtedly reflect the massive resource of GCR information that JNCC guards, and will involve our contribution to showing how geoconservation is an integral part of the way that we can contribute to nature conservation in a world undergoing changing climate and land-use.


Neil Ellis

GCR Publications Manager and Geoconservation Adviser

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866906