In many parts of the world, the regeneration, economic growth and social changes that took place in the two decades that followed the Second World War, led to increased leisure time and tourism and a greater awareness of the world around us. In addition, the realization of our ability to destroy both ourselves and the environment in which we live, clearly evident during the Cold War years, led to a greater appreciation of the fragile nature of the natural environment. By the late 1960s, increasing loss of countryside to development, and the ability to see our planet from space, led to an enhanced regard of the fragility of the environment in which we live.
By the 1970s an environmental revolution, with conservation at its core, was in full swing, highlighted by the pioneering 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm. By the 1990s the Earth Summit, held in Rio in 1992, had placed the environment, through its role in achieving sustainable development, on the global political and social agenda. Today, it is climate change that reminds us that we have the power to do irreparable damage to the natural environment that supports us.
This book provides the first collection of papers to address the history of geoconservation. It seeks to explore the origins of the subject and the concepts that helped to define it; it describes the history of geoconservation in the UK, looks more widely to the Republic of Ireland, mainland Europe and Australia and explores the evolution and impact of global conservation initiatives including World Heritage sites and Geoparks. In doing this, it highlights the invaluable contributions to geoconservation made by academics, geological societies, governments, conservationists, volunteers and local communities.
The papers demonstrate that the origin and development of this subject is interesting and informative in itself but more importantly, through revealing the history of geoconservation successes and failures, they provide us with an increased understanding of how we got to where we are now; invaluable knowledge in helping geoconservation meet the challenges that lie in the future.
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