Organisations choose geological sites or
geosites for different purposes, but mainly for their scientific
and research value.
Internationally protected sites
Some geological sites are World Heritage Sites, others may
become European Geosites. Wales doesn’t have any internationally
protected geosites, although there are many strong contenders.
Scientists throughout the world use some Welsh sites as
‘yardsticks’ or reference sites.
Nationally protected sites
These are the very best sites in Britain for geological and
geomorphological research. The UK has around 4,000 sites, with
about 450 of these in Wales.
The Geological Conservation Review (GCR) selects these sites at
the national Great Britain level using geological experts from all
over the country.
It’s the responsibility of CCW to designate GCR sites in Wales
as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and to notify
landowners and local planning authorities of the presence of such
sites on their land. Geological SSSIs are legally protected like
their biological counterparts, and some are incorporated within
National Nature Reserves (NNR).
Local and regional sites
RIGS (Regionally Important Geodiversity Sites) groups mainly
choose these sites. In Wales, there are three RIGS groups. They
select sites for historical, educational and aesthetic reasons in
addition to scientific qualities.
RIGS represent the distinctiveness and character of
local/regional geodiversity. Unlike SSSIs, they are not legally
protected, although most planning authorities are starting to take
RIGS into account in the planning process.