What is Geodiversity?
Geodiversity can be defined as Geological diversity or the variety of soils, rocks, fossils and minerals and geomorphological processes. (Prosser, 2002). It underpins all our activities from farming to engineering, gardening to waste management and recreation to industry.
Geodiversity links the earth, its people, their culture and biodiversity.
Within the Tees Valley geology has been exploited for hundreds of years, the alum, ironstone, jet and salt industries have all played a part in creating the landscape and heritage of the area. From the clay used to make bricks, and sandstone for walls, to the ironstones and limestones used in the blast furnaces, geology has shaped the Tees Valley into the place we live today. The distinctive landforms of Roseberry Topping and Freeborough hill, along with submerged forests, all tell the story of a landscape with a long history rich in heritage and interesting geology.
What Area Does the GAP Cover?
The Tees Valley constitutes an area of around 550km2 situated on the NE coast of England, and is currently administered through the five Unitary Authorities of Redcar & Cleveland, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Hartlepool and Darlington. The Tees Valley is bounded by County Durham, North Yorkshire and the North Sea. It includes the Lower Tees Valley, the River Tees estuary, the hills and coast of East Cleveland and part of the North York Moors National Park.
What are RIGS?
Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites (RIGS) are non-statutorily protected sites of regional and local importance for geology and geomorphology in the United Kingdom. RIGS may be designated for their value to Earth science, to Earth heritage in general and may include cultural, educational, historical and aesthetic resources. They are the most important places for geology, geomorphology and soils outside statutorily protected nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
RIGS locations are designated by locally developed criteria. The sites are selected and designated according to their value for:
- Educational fieldwork in primary and secondary schools, undergraduate level and adult education.
- Scientific Study by both postgraduates, professional and amateur earth scientists.
- Historical significance in terms of earth science knowledge and local heritage value.
- Aesthetic quality of the landscape.
If a site is of geological or geomorphological interest and meets one or more of the RIGS criteria then it can be put forward for designation by the local authorities as RIGS in order to be recognised and protected. It is worth noting that not all geodiversity can be protected but that is not to say that it has no value. It just doesn’t meet the standard for RIGS designation. Geodiversity is around us everywhere and it would be impractical to designate the whole of the surface of the earth as a RIGS location so RIGS groups have to be selective.
Who are Tees Valley RIGS Group?
Tees Valley RIGS group is a small group of volunteers who share an interest in local geology. Anyone is welcome to join and get involved. Members come from a range of different backgrounds and geological experience, from retired professionals to interested individuals who want to learn more, and from across the Tees Valley. The group has its own bank account and has successfully applied for funding over the past few years. It works closely with the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust to maximise the benefits of partnership working.
RIGS locations can still be overlooked by the public and local authorities because they are not statutory designations. RIGS status is more of a recognition tool rather than a restriction to development. By their very nature sites of geodiversity can be under threat from:
- Landfill projects and flooding.
- Quarrying developments.
- Inappropriate reclamation schemes.
- Land use changes.
- Ignorance, poor consultation, neglect and extensive vegetation coverage.
©2011 Tees Valley RIGS Group.