RIGS Sites

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Standardisation pilot

A pilot study has been undertaken (2001-2) to survey the status of recording and assessment procedures used by RIGS groups. In addition, other methods of recording are being analysed. UKRIGS wishes to acknowledge the financial support of English Nature in this project.

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:

  1. Educational fieldwork in primary and secondary schools, at undergraduate level and in adult education courses.
  2. 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.
  3. Historical significance in terms of important advances in Earth science knowledge.
  4. Aesthetic qualities in the landscape, particularly in relation to promoting public awareness and appreciation of Earth sciences.

Site protection

Many Earth science sites are under threat from a whole host of sources. RIGS are equivalent to local Wildlife Sites and other non-statutory wildlife designations. They can be listed in local authorities' development plans and shown on "alert maps". RIGS can be protected through the planning system if a RIGS group recommends sites to the local planning authority.

Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites (RIGS) are currently considered the most important places for Earth science outside statutorily protected land such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

For more information on RIGS site protection - consider a copy of the RIGS Handbook.


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