Progress in marine geoconservation in Scotland’s seas: assessment of key interests and their contribution to Marine Protected Area network planning

John E. Gordon, Anthony J. Brooks, Peter D. Chaniotis, Ben D. James, Neil H. Kenyon, Alick B. Leslie, David Long, Alistair F. Rennie

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    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Geoconservation in the marine environment has been largely overlooked, despite a wealth of accumulated information on marine geology and geomorphology and clear links between many terrestrial and marine features. As part of the wider characterisation of Scotland’s seas, this study developed criteria and a methodology that follow the established principles of the terrestrial, Great Britain-wide geoconservation audit, the Geological Conservation Review, to assess geodiversity key areas on the seabed. Using an expert judgement approach, eight geodiversity feature categories were identified to represent the geological and geomorphological processes that have influenced the evolution and present-day morphology of the Scottish seabed: Quaternary of Scotland; Submarine Mass Movement; Marine Geomorphology of the Scottish Deep-Ocean Seabed; Seabed Fluid and Gas Seep; Cenozoic Structures of the Atlantic Margin; Marine Geomorphology of the Scottish Shelf Seabed; Coastal Geomorphology of Scotland; and Biogenic Structures of the Scottish Seabed. Within these categories, 35 key areas were prioritised for their scientific value. Specific interests range from large-scale landforms (e.g. submarine landslides, sea-mounts and trenches) to fine-scale dynamic features (e.g. sand waves). Although these geodiversity interests provided supporting evidence for the identification and selection of a suite of Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) containing important marine natural features, they are only partially represented in these MPAs and existing protected areas. Nevertheless, a pragmatic approach is emerging to integrate as far as possible the conservation management of marine geodiversity with that of biodiversity and based on evidence of the sensitivity and vulnerability geological and geomorphological features on the seabed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)716-737
    JournalProceedings of the Geologists' Association
    Issue number6
    Early online date14 Nov 2016
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


    • Marine geodiversity
    • Geoheritage
    • Geoconservation assessment
    • Ecosystem approach
    • Marine Protected Areas
    • Geological Conservation Review


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