The status of geoheritage and geoconservation in Australia

Creswell, Ian1

1University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia

The protection of Australia’s natural heritage has been ongoing since the 1870s in every state and territory, however, efforts to identify and conserve important sites of geoheritage significance have had limited success.  This presentation reviews the policies and legislation governing geoheritage and geoconservation in all Australian jurisdictions and shows that there are inconsistencies and inadequacies in the processes to identify and protect areas of geoheritage significance.  Each state and territory has differing emphases on geoconservation and different degrees of success in achieving geoconservation goals.  In 2015 the Australian Government released the Australian Heritage Strategy as the overarching framework for the identification, management, and protection of Australia’s heritage across all levels of government and community.  While in recent years there have been a few ad hoc successes related to national heritage or to state heritage, it is not clear the strategy is working.  There is an urgent need for a nation-wide systematic approach to identifying representative geoheritage sites, and to enact processes for their protection.


Dr Cresswell is the co-Chair of the national State of the Environment report, and Chair of the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute. He has extensive experience working in environmental science in biodiversity conservation and discovery, oceans governance, fisheries management, wildlife regulation, and protected areas, including geoheritage. He has led major programs in CSIRO both in marine science and terrestrial and freshwater ecology science. Previous to this Ian worked within the Australian Government leading oceans management, sustainable fisheries assessments, international wildlife management, and the Australian Biological Resources Study. In collaboration with the V & C Semeniuk Research Group, Ian has studied coastal systems, including coastal dunes, estuaries, mangroves systems, and tidal flats, towards their management and assessing their geoheritage values.  In relation to geoheritage, Ian has a strong interest in geoconservation, policy, and legislation, and maintains an ongoing research interest in multiple-use management and coastal systems.

About the GSA

The Geological Society of Australia was established as a non-profit organisation in 1952 to promote, advance and support Earth sciences in Australia.

As a broadly based professional society that aims to represent all Earth Science disciplines, the GSA attracts a wide diversity of members working in a similarly broad range of industries.