Template for Geodiversity Charters
Note: In what follows, the term ‘territory’ may be taken to mean nation state, autonomous region or province as appropriate to your local circumstances.
This template provides guidance for those charged with putting together a Geodiversity Charter for a territory. It has been produced under the auspices of the EU Atlantic Geoparks Interreg project (2017-2020) and is intended for use both within the territories engaged in the project but also in territories beyond these areas in Europe and the wider world.
This guidance draws upon the Geodiversity Charters that have already been published for constituent countries of the United Kingdom. The principles are nevertheless readily transferable to other territories.
What is Geodiversity?
There are several definitions of geodiversity that have been published. Here are a couple;
- Geodiversity is the variety of rocks, landforms, sediments, soils and the natural processes which form and alter them. [Scottish Geodiversity Forum in Scotland’s Geodiversity Charter 2018]
- Geodiversity is the variety of rocks, minerals, fossils, landforms and soils, together with the natural processes that shape them. Geodiversity is a foundation for life and our society. It influences landscape, habitats and species as well as our economy, historical and cultural heritage, education, health and well-being. [Geodiversity Charter for England]
It may be noted that Scotland’s Geodiversity Charter also defines geoheritage as those elements of our geodiversity that have significant intrinsic, cultural, aesthetic, scientific or educational value.
What is a Geodiversity Charter?
A Geodiversity Charter is a document published with the aim of outlining in broad terms, the geodiversity of a defined area such as a nation state or region and describing the value which that geodiversity has for recreation and tourism, the economy and resource management, landscape and conservation. It outlines the contribution which geodiversity can make to health and well-being and wider goals within society.
A Charter recognises some of the threats to geodiversity but also identifies opportunities for its conservation and enhancement. It considers ways in which geodiversity can be linked with wider economic and societal goals and recommends how different sectors can play a part in achieving identified goals.
Existing Geodiversity Charters
Charters have been published for three of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom and one for the fourth (Wales) is being prepared for publication in 2021.
The Scottish Geodiversity Forum* was established in 2011 and took on the role of preparing Scotland’s first Geodiversity Charter. Appearing in 2012, it was the first document of its kind published anywhere in the world. A similar document for England was published by the English Geodiversity Forum soon after. The task of assembling a document for Northern Ireland fell to GSNI, the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland. Geodiversity Cymru is a similar grouping currently (November 2020) moving the Welsh charter forwards. *now the Scottish Geology Trust
The forums established in Scotland, England and Wales bring together key stakeholders from the public, private and charitable sectors. The Charter documents are thus a product of collaboration between these diverse bodies, bolstered by support from numerous other organisations invited to be signatories to the finished documents.
How should a Charter be structured?
This section is based upon the published UK Charters which have a common format.
It is a good idea to begin the document with a foreword written by a scientist, politician or other person with a standing in the field. This should be a general text commending the document to its intended readership.
What is geodiversity?
It is useful to give the reader a definition of geodiversity at the outset. There are many definitions that have been published – two have already been given in this document. Your choice will be governed by local circumstances – have relevant authorities or ministries in your territory already adopted one as their standard?
The importance and value of geodiversity in your territory
It is worth giving a few examples of geodiversity that together are representative of the territory for which the Charter is being drawn up. And remember that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’; include some high quality images.
Include a brief geological history of the territory written in non-technical language suitable for a lay audience. Make appropriate links between the resultant geodiversity and the territory’s archaeology, history and culture.
Describe how geodiversity underpins biodiversity, a subject with which the reader is more likely to have some prior acquaintance.
Provide an account of how geodiversity is protected within the territory under local, national and international law. Introduce your readers to UNESCO designations such as Geoparks and World Heritage Sites.
A call to action
Set out what the threats to geodiversity are in your territory. List the opportunities afforded by an increased understanding and awareness of geodiversity.
A vision for the future of geodiversity in your territory
Set out how a recognition of geodiversity can help to maintain and enhance it. Identify how raising awareness, integration with relevant policies, conservation and research can play their part.
Engagement by sector
Address the different sectors in turn, identifying what actions they can each take to promote and safeguard geodiversity within the territory. Key sectors will include i) individuals and communities, ii) landowners and managers, iii) developers, industry and business, iv) local authorities, public agencies and government departments, v) education and research.
It will be instructive to cite a number of well-chosen case studies to illustrate the engagement of bodies in each sector.
Expressions of support for the Charter
Support for the Charter should be sought from a wide range of potential stakeholders and when obtained, their names should be entered into the document as signatories to it. This section should also contain an invitation to others to provide support.
It is advantageous to include reference to the forum or other body responsible for drawing up, publishing and promoting the Charter.
Acknowledgements and ancillary material
Assistance given in the preparation of the document (including provision of any maps and images) should be acknowledged here. This is an appropriate location to place logos and include useful URLs from which supporting material can be gleaned.
- Scotland’s Geodiversity Charter
- Geodiversity Charter for England
- Northern Ireland’s Geodiversity Charter