BRITAIN'S geological heritage - including Limestone areas of the Yorkshire Dales - should be celebrated and its protection placed at the heart of environmental planning according to a newly published report.
Report points to importance of Limestone
Geodiversity such as rocks, fossils, minerals, landforms, landscapes, geological processes and soils - is a fundamental environmental asset but it is one of the least recognised and valued according to the study published jointly by English Nature, the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service.
According to the 'Natural Foundations' report Britain is one of the most geodiverse countries in the world, creating widely varying landforms, habitats and building stones that make up the landscapes that contribute to our national character and cultural identity.
The report authors believe that conserving geodiversity is about recognising the links between geology, soils, natural processes, habitats and landscapes and managing the environment in a more integrated manner.
This is the first report celebrating the pivotal role that geology plays in our lives...
Jonathan Larwood - English Nature
A number of threats are pointed to in the report, some of which can be specifically applied to the limestone pavements of the Yorkshire Dales.
Mineral extraction, a major industry within the National Park, is having a negative impact on pavements and could lead to a loss of this spectacular feature and also to the loss of caves according to the report. Poorly planned tree plantations could pose an additional threat, obscuring and even destroying these rare geological features.
The authors also point to a neglect of man-made landscape features such as dry-stone walls and vernacular buildings such as barns.
English Nature geologist and joint author of the report, Jonathan Larwood said: "This is the first report celebrating the pivotal role that geology plays in our lives and suggesting solutions to some of the challenges we face in the 21st century. It will form the natural foundation for everything we do in the future."
Dales walls under threat
This report is aimed at decision makers who can set out the policies for the better conservation, management and enhancement of geodiversity.
Natural England will take over responsibility for geology from next month. Sir Martin Doughty, Chair of the new body, said: "I'm delighted that this excellent document has succeeded in linking geology with biodiversity, soils, natural processes and landscapes, since that's exactly what Natural England will be all about.
"We're determined to promote a holistic approach to the environment, in which these linkages are fundamental. This report will be really valuable in helping establish a common starting point for the people that will join us from the three founding Bodies - English Nature, the Countryside Agency, and the Rural Development Service."