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Geological Heritage and Geo-conservation

Ventifact Knobs McMurdo Dry Valleys

The main purpose of the SCAR Expert Group on Geological Heritage and Geo-conservation (EG-GEOCON) is to advance the identification of Antarctic geological sites of exceptional value to be designated geological heritage of international relevance, and to contribute to SCAR advice to the CEP and the ATCM on matters related to conservation of geological heritage.

The term geological heritage (or ‘geo-heritage’) can be applied to natural geological or geomorphological features possessing aesthetic, intrinsic or scientific and educational value, and that provide unique insight into geological processes affecting the formation or evolution of the Earth. With improving accessibility to Antarctica, the need for recognition, protection and management of geo-heritage sites is becoming increasingly important. 

Environmental protection and conservation practice in the Antarctic is managed by provisions contained within the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. Whilst these provisions have been used primarily to protect sites of biological or cultural significance, sites of geological or geomorphological significance may also be considered. However, to date, sites of geological and geomorphological significance have not received the same attention as sites protecting other values, leaving much scope to improve protection of Antarctica’s geological heritage.