The conservation of Jurassic heritage in the UK – a critical review of the role of governmental organisations and their effectiveness



In 1949 the concept of protected geological sites was first established in UK law by Nature Conservancy(NC) as ‘Sites of Special Scientific Interest’ (SSSIs). In 1977 a systematic site selection process - the Geological Conservation Review (GCR) was established by the UK-wide Nature Conservancy Council (NCC) which identified over 3000 features of geological interest nationally (excluding Northern Ireland), including around 275 representing aspects of Jurassic stratigraphy and palaeontology. These GCR sites formed the basis for all subsequent geoconservation SSSI designation including under strengthened legislation in 1981 and 2002. The fragmentation of the NCC in 1991 established separate country conservation bodies in Scotland (Scottish Natural Heritage), Wales (Countryside Council for Wales), and England (English Nature) with a fourth, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to oversee certain national and international activities. In Northern Ireland, however, nature conservation remained the responsibility of the Environment and Heritage Service of the Department of the Environment. With the establishment of these five separate organisations, policy and practice began to diverge. The consequences of this divergence are discussed with particular reference to its effects on the conservation of sites of Jurassic palaeontological and stratigraphical importance. Recommendations for future conservation strategies and procedures are proposed.


Jurassic; geoconservation; UK; Natural Heritage; Geological Conservation Review

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