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Geoconservation and geotourism: challenges and unifying themes

Williams, Mark, McHenry, MT ORCID: 0000-0002-4393-8635 and Boothroyd, A 2020 , 'Geoconservation and geotourism: challenges and unifying themes' , Geoheritage, vol. 12 , pp. 1-14 , doi:

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Geoconservation and geotourism potentially represent two ends on the spectrum of appreciation of abiotic elements. Though it would appear to make sense that practitioners and researchers in both ‘fields’ work together providing a linkage between theory and practice, the barriers encountered, and potential opportunities represented by collaboration or cooperation, have not yet been thoroughly explored. This paper documents the experiences of researchers and practitioners working in protected areas governance and management, geoconservation and geotourism, via semi-structured interviews of 30 geoheritage and geoparks researchers and practitioners. Using narrative discourse, we identified a number of challenges and barriers in conserving, practicing and managing geoheritage and geoparks. Divergence in the acceptance of geodiversity as a concept appears most preventative to the discipline in the areas of research/scholarship and assessment criteria, and conversely, a unified interpretation of geodiversity appears to be applied to UNESCO Global Geopark, national geopark and geotouristic assessments. Diverse perspectives of geodiversity were expressed against a backdrop of other constraints, such as lack of funding, inconsistent inventory and criteria and lack of recognition of geoheritage in general. There is pleasing evidence that the nature and reach of geoconservation research, practice and training is increasing, which will be pivotal to reducing reported subjectivity in assessment criteria and promoting geoconservation to national bodies. We suggest that until there is consensus as to which unifying terms and themes the discipline should actually encompass and support, there will continue to be fragmentation and scope creep between actors in geoconservation and geotouristic research and practice. The biggest concern that we identified from our research was that geoconservation professionals appear to be becoming more isolated from the development and ongoing management strategies of popular geotouristic and geodiversity sites, which has the potential to limit quality scientific communication of geoheritage and geoscientific values to the public. Now that there has been such a significant increase in global geoconservation research in the past five years, it is pivotal that geoconservationists and geotouristic professionals work together, recognising a common goal in the appreciation of abiotic landforms and landscapes.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Williams, Mark and McHenry, MT and Boothroyd, A
Keywords: perspectives, international, planning, terminology, tourism
Journal or Publication Title: Geoheritage
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 1867-2477
DOI / ID Number:
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 The European Association for Conservation of the Geological Heritage

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