GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 201-9
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM


SZTEIN, Ester, Board on International Scientific Organizations, National Academy of Sciences, 500 Fifth St., Washington, DC 20001 and MOGK, David, Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717

Geoheritage is a descriptive term applied to sites or areas of geologic features with significant scientific, educational, cultural, and/or aesthetic value (GSA, 2017). While the scientific value of a given geological feature is at its core, a geoheritage approach adds the cultural, educational, and societal dimensions to the study and protection of these natural systems in a holistic way. Geoheritage incorporates the diversity of people and their history, art, and activities in the landscape and many times also presents opportunities for economic development. This interdisciplinary approach lends itself to co-design, provides entry points for different stakeholders, and contributes to the sense of place and ownership of the various communities living in the area and pride in protecting their important natural and cultural resources.

Geoheritage provides a space for geology to strengthen collaborations with other scientific disciplines such as geography, ecology, and biology. For example, more interaction and coordination between scientists studying geodiversity and biodiversity will mutually reinforce the protection of both, resulting in a more sustainable future.

The Advisory Group for Geoheritage, part of the National Academy of Sciences’ U.S. National Committee for Geological Sciences, works towards strengthening the geoheritage movement in the U.S. Its members advise universities, states, and other groups interested on pursuing preservation of geoheritage sites and geodiversity in the U.S. and abroad. Many U.S. actors, such as federal and state agencies and state geological surveys, fulfill an important role in geoheritage. The interactions between international and U.S. geoheritage practitioners are rich. International experts participated in the 2020-2021 National Academies’ America’s Geoheritage Workshop II: Identifying, Developing, and Preserving America’s Natural Legacy workshop representing the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network, International Geoscience Programme (IGCP), IUGS’ Commission on Geoheritage, and IUCN. An integrated understanding of geoheritage and increased participation of all stakeholders will help us protect and cherish our national natural patrimony.