Through collaboration with national and regional partners, the Geoheritage Expert Group provides knowledge and expertise for the conservation and sustainable management of Europe’s geological heritage.
The Geoheritage Expert Group (GhEG)
Earth’s geological processes are happening around us all the time. Rivers cut their way down into their valleys, shed their sediment where they empty into the sea, thus forming deltas, and mountains rise imperceptibly as continental plates grind against each other. These processes shape the ground we stand on and the landscapes we see around us. The results are often distinctive geological sites (geosites) that can be unique, visually appealing or have scientific value. They are centres for geotourism, geological education and scientific research. Over the past decade, increased public awareness of geosites has demonstrated their importance to society and revealed geoconservation knowledge gaps that must be filled. There is a need to document the geosites we have, their vulnerabilities and how we can sustainably manage them. This is the focus of the GhEG.
Answering geological questions requires geological data. To achieve a geosite’s full potential and future security, we need accurate and reliable data in the form of geoheritage inventories. These data are collected and assessed by the Geological Surveys of Europe, and the GhEG, formed from the surveys, enables the harmonisation of these data and provides a pan-European view of Europe’s diverse geoheritage.
The work is often time consuming, expensive and resource heavy. However, the benefits for local communities and for society in general can outweigh these obstacles, for a modern geoheritage inventory will allow:
- improved access to more and better managed geosites
- proper sustainable management of geosites as part of natural heritage
- prevention and/or reduction of damage to geosites, a non-renewable natural resource
- better land use and infrastructure planning for proper development
In turn, this supports tourism, education and science, and provides a unique service to society – a better understanding of Europe’s geoheritage and geoconservation.
The GhEG provides the expertise needed to provide long term management of Europe’s geoheritage and a framework to deliver services to society through geoconservation.
The GhEG provides Europe with expertise on geoheritage and geoconservation by utilising the knowledge provided by the European geological surveys. This spans regional, national and pan-European needs and initiatives. It also provides useful information on the international relevance of geosites, a requirement for UNESCO Global Geopark proposals and for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The GhEG continues its work on documenting important geoheritage sites of the EGS member countries (via the activities of the member Geological Surveys of Europe), and collaborating on best practise and promotion of the pan-European importance of geoheritage and geodiversity.