In the run up to this year’s Fellows’ Night, we invite EGS Members to visit somewhere new this autumn and share what you find! Did you know that Scotland has nearly 900 Geological Conservation Review Sites? Or that in the Lothian and Borders area there are 150 Local Geodiversity Sites, with more on the way? Together, these sites represent the best of Scotland’s local and national geology, and there is sure to be a site, perhaps very nearby, that you haven’t visited before! So we encourage you to go and explore locally, share what you find on social media, and volunteer to report back at Fellows’ Night on Wednesday 14 December. Who’s up for the challenge of visiting every nearby Geological Conservation Review site, or all the Local Geodiversity Sites in your Local Authority area?
Geological Conservation Review (GCR) sites were identified by systematic survey over several decades by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, to select Britain’s very best geological and geomorphological features. There are nearly 900 GCR sites in Scotland. Most have statutory protection through designation as geological features in Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).
Local Geodiversity Sites (LGS) are the most important places for geology, geomorphology and soils outside nature reserves and SSSIs. Lothian and Borders GeoConservation, a committee of EGS, leads the way in Scotland in working with Local Authorities in the designation of LGS.
Finding information about a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest
Where a GCR site is also a SSSI, it is easy to find information from NatureScot. Each SSSI has a detailed “SSSI Citation” available as a free download online. The quickest way to see the local SSSIs and find information about them is to do a map search on SiteLink: sitelink.nature.scot/map.
To use SiteLink map search, you need to open the Layers box and select “Sites of Scientific Interest”. Then on the map you can select any of the highlighted sites, and the pop-up box directs you to the site details page where you can access the SSSI Citation. SSSIs are designated for both biodiversity and geodiversity features, sometimes both. To help identify which SSSIs have geodiversity features, select the “Geological Conservation Review” layer: SSSIs that overlap with GCR sites are the ones likely to have one or more geodiversity features.
Finding information about a Geological Conservation Review site
While most GCR sites are also SSSIs and you can find information as above, there are more than 200 GCR sites, known as ‘unnotified GCR sites’, have no protective SSSI designation status. Also, the GCR site descriptions are often more detailed and more recent than SSSI citations, and are contained in volumes with useful introductions and overviews.
So, it is worth doing some extra work to find a GCR site description. If only it was as simple as selecting the “Geological Conservation Review” box in SiteLink as above! Sadly, although that will usefully show you where a GCR site is, you can’t access any further information that way.
Instead, it is better to search for GCR sites using our Google Map available here. On our map, clicking within the red site boundary will pop up useful information about the site, including the site name, GCR Block and site number. You can then go and find further information in the relevant GCR volume. Many of them are scanned and available as free downloads – search by site name at https://data.jncc.gov.uk/.
More recent GCR volumes have been published in the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, including the Dalradian and Mineralogy of Scotland. Abstracts for these articles are available for free online, but full text is only available via an institution or membership of the GA.
Finding information about a Local Geodiversity Site
There are currently 150 LGS across West Lothian, Midlothian, East Lothian, City of Edinburgh and Scottish Borders council areas. A survey is currently underway to identify further sites in Midlothian.
You can find out more about these sites, and in many cases access detailed site descriptions, here – www.edinburghgeolsoc.org/home/geoconservation/local-geodiversity-sites-in-lothian-and-borders/.
If you can’t find the information you are looking for, or would like to know more about the work of Lothian and Borders GeoConservation, you can get in touch with Mike Browne or Angus Miller. The group is starting a programme to monitor all existing sites. The LBGC Volunteer Group will meet at 7pm on Wednesdays 28 September (2022), 26 October, 23 November, 25 January (2023), 22 February, 22 March. All welcome!