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Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites

(Information from GeoConservationUK)

Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites (RIGS), designated by locally developed criteria, are currently the most important places for geology and geomorphology outside statutorily protected land such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The designation of RIGS is one way of recognising and protecting important Earth science and landscape features for future generations to enjoy.

They are conserved and protected by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, though they do not have the statutory management protection unlike Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).  

Site selection

RIGS are designated by locally developed criteria. They are important as an educational, historical and recreational resource. The designation of RIGS is one way of recognising and thereby protecting important Earth science and landscape features for the future.

Integrity sites: These are sites whose scientific or educational value lies in the fact that they contain finite and limited deposits or landforms that are irreplaceable if destroyed e.g., active process geomorphological sites or limestone pavements.

Exposure sites: Sites whose scientific or educational value lies in providing exposures of a deposit, which are extensive or plentiful, underground e.g., cuttings, cliffs, outcrops and mines.

These guidelines are taken from the NCC strategy. The main selection criteria are based on four main themes. All RIGS systems should incorporate these principles.

Sites are selected according to their value for:

  • Educational fieldwork in primary and secondary schools, at undergraduate level and in adult education courses.
  • Scientific Study by both professional and amateur Earth scientists. Such sites demonstrate, alone or as part of a network, the geology or geomorphology of an area.
  • Historical significance in terms of important advances in Earth science knowledge.
  • Aesthetic qualities in the landscape, particularly in relation to promoting public awareness and appreciation of Earth sciences.
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