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Geoheritage: From global reviews and the Australian experience to guiding principles for coastal Western Australia

Brocx, Margaret (2003) Geoheritage: From global reviews and the Australian experience to guiding principles for coastal Western Australia. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Geoheritage and geoconservation are concerned with the preservation of Earth products and processes, including landforms, exposures of geological features, at a wide range of scales, and encompassing the diversity of minerals, rocks and fossils. Coastal geoheritage as a subset of geoheritage represents a special zone where geological features and processes are exceptionally well developed, manifold, and complex. Globally, geoconservation has been afforded international status through organisations such as IUCN, ProGEO, and UNESCO, amongst others, and major in-roads have been made in protecting important geosites worldwide and intra-nationally. International conventions now contain globally accepted principles for geoconservation, involving sustainable development and intergenerational equity. In the unfolding of geoconservation, the United Kingdom, considered the birthplace of modern geology, particularly has a long association with geoheritage, and has provided models, procedures, and classifications that have been exported around the world, including Australia.

Australia has had a mixed history in relation to geoheritage. Initially, it was one of the early leaders in establishing national parks and protecting geosites, but later, through its reliance on minerals and agriculture, its perspective became economic, to the demise of conservation. Australia since the 1970s has continued with geoconservation, with achievements in procedures and listing of sites nationally through the Australian Heritage Commission and the Geological Society of Australia, and various international Conventions to which it is a signatory. However, at State level there are stark contrasts in practical achievements, with Tasmania a leader in geoconservation. Interviews with personnel involved in decision-making in relation to geoheritage in Western Australia highlighted deficiencies in procedure, legislation, and policy. Many are not geoscientists and are making decisions without knowledge of issues of geoheritage. The case study of the Pilbara Coast particularly brought out the matter that mineral wealth over-rides geoheritage. This Coast is internationally significant, but borders a mineral rich hinterland. Development has changed irreversibly the character of the coast, with loss of geoheritage as a result of ignorance of its values, and ad hoc exploitation of mineral resources.

To address coastal geoheritage in this State, an integrated whole-of-government statement as to guiding principles is required. This should at the least involve an inventory-based State-wide coastal classification, priority listing of sites, as well as drafting of legislation, policy, and definitions, and outlining clearly defined roles for each of the stakeholders.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Supervisor(s): Bailey, John and Semeniuk, Vic
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/51663
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