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WHS and Geology

Author Alikander99
#1 | Posted: 29 Nov 2022 10:53 
By the way, today i was looking at the IUGS world heritage list and Almadén and idrija IS most definetely part of It. I think we have a connection for that.

Related to that. What IS your opinion on the list? I find interesting that some WHS of geologic nature are not included while some geological heritage sites are not included in the WHL. i was looking in particular at the cases of the Zumaia flysch and the Taburiente Caldera, which i've always thought might be a noteworthy inclusion to the list.

Author Solivagant
#2 | Posted: 29 Nov 2022 12:18 | Edited by: Solivagant 
By the way, today i was looking at the IUGS world heritage list and Almadén and idrija IS most definetely part of It.

It had passed me by that this list had been published.

Yes, Almaden is in it and COULD be added to this Connection. Something that really surprises me is that, 10 years AFTER inscription, I am still the ONLY person to have reviewed Almaden!!!! Yet there are 7 reviews of the, IMO, far less interesting and significant Idrija!!

I say "COULD be added" because it hasn't been made a WHS for its direct Geological values - solely for its "Cultural Heritage" of mining - Crits ii and iv. The same is true for Rio de Janiero (Crits v and vi) - Are we sure that we want this connection to work for purely "Cultural" sites which are not inscribed directly for their geology?

I find interesting that some WHS of geologic nature are not included while some geological heritage sites are not included in the WHL

I guess the "answer" might be that the recently published list is just a starting point ("The IUGS Executive Committee has ratified the First 100 IUGS Geological Heritage Sites as the first and inspiring step towards a wider program that will give recognition to those geological sites of the highest scientific importance of the World."). This indicates that there were 181 candidates. I expect that the IUGS deliberately spread the 100 around to cover both more countries AND a fuller range of Geological phenomena. I haven't yet been able to discover which 81 didn't make it through to the first 100

There are 93 WHS whose inscription criteria includes Crit viii ("to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;"). These are likely to constitute the majority of WHS with "IUGS potential". To complicate matters WHS which are geologically significant for more recent geomorphological reasons also find themselves included in the IUGS list. So the Okavango, whose inscribed criteria doesn't include viii, DOES include ix ("to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;")

But then, amazingly, I discover that Tsingy de Bemaraha was only inscribed on Crit vii ("superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;" and x "the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation." . Indeed it seems that IUGS have also included it for being of "Exceptional Beauty".

We seem to have 2 lists which are adding sites for 2 different sets of reasons - with some overlap - but with no reason to expect a very close correlation!

Author Alikander99
#3 | Posted: 29 Nov 2022 16:21 | Edited by: Alikander99 
I'm gonna assume that the reason why no geological value is pointed out in the nomination is...Idrija. Mixed sites tend (ehmm balearic islands) to recquire for the natural and cultural parts to stem from the same place. That could in fact be the case for Almaden as the biggest known deposit of Mercury rich ores in the world, but not for idrija. There are several Mercury deposits comparable to idrija in size and geologic importance, sites which were even included in a previous attempt at nomination, as you surely know. I see It as follows, this nomination was already pretty difficult to pull out only to add the hurdle of convincing the IUCN to make the site mixed because half of it might be of geological global importance. Even you said It, in that site idrija feels very much like a compliment to the larger and more significant almaden.

Now onto It's inscription...don't let It in, i'm convinced. It is a pity that the site didn't get included because of its geological importance, but upon further inspection It really seems that almaden IS a purely industrial heritage site. There are a couple mentions of geological interest, but they aren't explored any further and most crucially imo, only the mines and not the deposits themselves are included.

There's probably a reson why they weren't included. Almaden still has the largest Mercury deposits and It's possible that those might be profitable in the future, thus the non-inscription. In fact upon further research It seems there are no industrial sites cited under crit VIII which is...oddly weird. One would expect a connection between the mining industry and geologic anomalies, but the list says nope. 😑 Grgrgr

On the other side, even though the UNESCO inscription barely mentions almaden's geologic importance, the IUGS seemingly can't go a sentence without mentioning Its cultural importance, which is honestly quite fishy. Add to that the shockingly short scientific study section of tsingy's profile (like...It's as short as It can get) and...well, perhaps the IUGS isn't the most qualified at telling actual geological importance.

So we have UNESCO which ignores mines as geologically worthy and IUGS which apparently doesn't know It's own criteria...😓

... I'm going to sleep I don't want to know where this leads me.

Anyway It would be worth seeing if any other industrial sites are of actual geologic importance, In spite of what the list may or not mention. I bet we can find some mixed sites under our noses.

Author Solivagant
#4 | Posted: 30 Nov 2022 05:02 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I am sure you are right about the difficulties and downsides of including Natural Values in Cultural sites.
IMO IUCN tends to be a very "absolutist" organisation when it comes to "Nature". Mines/Mining are a particular bete noir in its world view. I think it would be happy if there were no such things -and certainly NOT where there is any "Nature". And of course its view of "Nature" tends towards living things/ecosystems rather than the purely geological.

If you look at the 39 "Mixed" WHS it becomes clear that IUCN is prepared to consider that "Nature" having OUV can only coexist with "Culture" where that culture is old/relict or consists of peoples who "live in harmony" with nature. A relatively recent example of its attitude is the very limited Blue Mountains WHS in Jamaica where IUCN insisted on the removal of large parts of those mountains where primary forest had been impacted by coffee plantation - only the more historical Cultural aspects related to the Maroons were allowed to coexist with the Natural Blue Mountains in a single WHS.

The more one looks at it the more issues arise about the place of Geology within "WHS - UNESCO has already taken under its wing the concept of "Geoparks" (though didn't originate it). And now there is a 3rd "designation" created by the IUGS. How many are needed? How are they diffeerent?

UNESCO does seem to recognise that the handling of "Geological Value" raises issues. See this report titled "Geological World Heritage
A revised global framework for the application of criterion (viii) of the World Heritage Convention"
which itself refers to earlier reports on similar matters.

The entire subject of "WHS and Geology" might justify a separate Forum topic started by these posts under "Connections"?

PS. One "difference" in the objectives of the IUGS list and those of UNESCO is that "Preservation" isn't part of the IUGS objectives whereas it is the prime purpose of WHS. In many cases this is perfectly reasonable - Mercury bearing rock strata etc aren't "going anywhere"!
So - "An IUGS Geological Heritage Site is a key place with geological elements and/or processes of scientific international relevance, used as a reference, and/or with a substantial contribution to the development of geological sciences through history."
It isn't entirely true of course and some of the IUGS reference list sites could no doubt be regarded as being potentially "at risk"(Eg those with very fragile environments and those with a "historical" aspect) - but designation has nothing (or is said to have nothing) to do with ensuring their preservation.

But the WHS list sometimes strays in the opposite direction - Geological phenomena such as Glarus Thrust and Stevns Klint also aren't "going anywhere" - but have been inscribed for....... Preservation?? Hardly and certainly not in "geological terms" - the most that could be claimed is that WHS designation helps preserve their environment so that they can be "enjoyed" more?

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