Geoheritage

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 205–216 | Cite as

Protection and Preservation of Australia’s Palaeontological Heritage

Original Article

Abstract

Australia’s rich and diverse fossil heritage includes many unique and world famous localities of critical importance to palaeontology. Though some sites are well managed and adequately protected, others, due to their remoteness and difficulties associated with 24-h policing, have suffered from vandalism or theft. Under the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986, designed to prevent the export of culturally and scientifically valuable material, Federal (Commonwealth of Australia) law only protects fossil specimens, rather than the localities at which they occur. Several iconic sites have attained World Heritage recognition. Legislation to protect palaeontological sites varies considerably across state and territorial jurisdictions, ranging from inclusion in National Parks to local reserves created specifically to preserve fossils. Unfortunately, some of the latter completely lack any protective measures and only serve to highlight the existence of collectable specimens. In Queensland, the Northern Territory and Tasmania, collection of fossils is partly restricted under regulations governing fossicking, whereas in the other Australian states and territories, the legal situation regarding collecting requires clarification. In legislating against unregulated exploitation and potential destruction of fossil sites, and developing mechanisms to protect scientifically valuable specimens, governments should be wary of imposing restrictions against collecting which would deny the public their right to enjoyment of fossils as a recreational and educational hobby. The PaleoParks initiative, developed by the International Paleontological Association, provides a model with a flexible approach to site preservation and collecting (where appropriate) with a minimum of bureaucratic management.

Keywords

Fossils Palaeontology Legislation Geoheritage protection PaleoParks 

References

  1. Australian Heritage Council (2012) Australia’s fossil heritage: a catalogue of important Australian fossil sites. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, 188 ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Beattie RG, Avery S (2012) Palaeoecology and palaeoenvironment of the Jurassic Talbragar Fossil Fish Bed, Gulgong, New South Wales, Australia. Alcheringa 36:451–465Google Scholar
  3. Brown IA (1946) An outline of the history of palaeontology in Australia (Presidential address). Proc Linnean Soc NSW 71:v–xviiiGoogle Scholar
  4. Calver CR (2009) Geological setting of Jurassic plant fossils near Lune River. Tasmanian Geological Survey Record 2009/02. Mineral Resources Tasmania, Hobart, 14 ppGoogle Scholar
  5. Grey K, Roberts FI, Freeman MJ, Hickman AH, Van Kranendonk MJ, Bevan AWR (2010) Management plan for State Geoheritage Reserves. Geological Survey of Western Australia, Record 2010/13, Western Australia Department of Mines and Petroleum, Perth, 23 ppGoogle Scholar
  6. Joyce EB (2010) Australia’s geoheritage: history of study, a new inventory of geosites and applications to geotourism and geoparks. Geoheritage 2:39–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lipps JH (2009) PaleoParks: Our paleontological heritage protected and conserved in the field worldwide. In: Lipps JH, Granier BRC (eds) PaleoParks—the protection and conservation of fossil sites worldwide. Carnets de Géologie / Notebooks on Geology, Brest, Book 2009/03, Chapter 01 (CG2009_B0OK_03/01)Google Scholar
  8. Percival IG (1985) The geological heritage of New South Wales. Vol 1. NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, Sydney, 136 ppGoogle Scholar
  9. Percival IG, Meakin NS, Sherwin L, Vanderlaan TA, Flitcroft PA (2012) Permian fossils and palaeoenvironments of the northern Sydney Basin, New South Wales. Geological Survey of NSW Quarterly Notes 138:1–23Google Scholar
  10. Ritchie A (2005) Cowralepis, a new genus of phyllolepid fish (Pisces, Placodermi) from the Late Middle Devonian of New South Wales, Australia. Proc Linnean Soc NSW 126:215–259Google Scholar
  11. Strusz DL (2011) Silurian brachiopods from the historic Woolshed Creek Area, Canberra, Australia. Proc Linnean Soc NSW 133:31–49Google Scholar
  12. Vallance TG (1978) Pioneers and leaders—a record of Australian palaeontology in the nineteenth century. Alcheringa 2:243–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. White ME (1991) Time in our hands. Reed Books, Balgowlah, 191 ppGoogle Scholar
  14. Young GC (2011) Wee Jasper-Lake Burrinjuck fossil fish sites: scientific background to national heritage nomination. Proc Linnean Soc NSW 132:83–107Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Crown Copyright 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geological Survey of New South WalesWB Clarke Geoscience CentreLondonderryAustralia

Personalised recommendations