Conserving Geodiversity Sites in a Changing Climate: Management Challenges and Responses
- First Online:
- 480 Downloads
Climate change, and the human responses to it, represents a serious threat to the natural environment. While the impacts of climate change are now well recognised for biodiversity, little attention has been given to the effects on geodiversity and its conservation. Set in the context of current projections for climate change in the UK, this paper examines some of the likely impacts of climate change, and the human responses to it, on a wide range of geodiversity features and sites. It identifies the conservation management challenges that are likely to arise, proposes responses to these challenges and highlights areas where more evidence is required in order to inform the decision-making and management responses that will be needed. It suggests that all types of geodiversity site will be impacted to some extent by changes in active processes. Sites located on the coast, adjacent to rivers or on active slopes, and the associated geomorphological processes, are most likely to experience the greatest changes, particularly from sea-level rise, increased erosion or flooding. The human responses to these changes, in the form of ‘hard’ coastal protection or river and slope engineering are, however, likely to have the greatest impact on geodiversity. Whilst climate change will pose many challenges to the conservation of geodiversity, it will also generate new opportunities. Principles and guidance to facilitate the management of geodiversity in a changing climate are now required to inform wider adaptation strategies that address the needs of geodiversity alongside those of biodiversity and society more widely.