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11 May 08
So why not take advantage of the wealth of fascinating geological features we have in the north of Scotland - with key sites Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve (NNR) near Elphin and the vast North West Highlands Geopark well worth a visit.
Last summer at SNH's Knockan Crag NNR we employed a part time visitor guide to explain the importance of this internationally celebrated geological site. The post was co-funded by HIE Caithness and Sutherland and we were lucky be able to take on Scourie-based geologist, Donald Fisher. The service proved popular with local people and visitors and it is hoped to repeat it this summer.
It was interesting to see last week evidence of the biggest meteorite ever to hit the British Isles was found by scientists from the University of Oxford and the University of Aberdeen. It is thought that a large meteorite hit the northwest of Scotland around 1.2 billion years ago.
Scientists had believed that many of the unusual rock formations in the Ullapool area were volcanically formed, but a report in the journal "Geology" explains there may be evidence buried in rock layers pointing to some of these formations as being material thrown out over an area of around 50 kilometres across. The crater of this meteorite is believed to lie under the Minch, close to Ullapool.
This fascinating trip back through time is just one element of the geological interest in this part of the world. We are fortunate to have the North West Highlands Geopark, Scotland's first Geopark which won the UNESCO and European Geopark accolade in 2004.
The Geopark covers an area of the north west from Durness to Achiltibuie and aims to encourage sustainable rural development by raising awareness of the north west's outstanding geology and supporting economic and social development, especially linked to tourism. And it also supports environmental educational initiatives and research activities relating to the geological, natural and cultural heritage of the area.
Some of you may well have attended the successful European Geoparks Conference held in Ullapool last September. At the opening event, Scottish Natural Heritage chairman Andrew Thin confirmed the importance of Geoparks for communities and the economy of the north west. More than 150 international delegates converged on Ullapool and then travelled around looking at the links between geology, culture and land use. There were representatives from 31 Geoparks across Europe and the rest of the world. The furthest-travelled was John Collyer from the Warrnambool Aboriginal Cooperative, who gave a spectacular presentation about cultural landscapes in Australia. Fortunately there were no further meteor strikes on Ullapool while they were there!
Seventy five per cent of the Scottish adult
population made at least one visit to the outdoors for leisure and
recreation purposes in 2005 and these visits were estimated to be worth
Ł4.8 billion to the Scottish economy. Wildlife tourism has grown in
importance and a major visitor survey in 2001 demonstrated that 70% of
visitors list wildlife and landscape as key parts of their Scottish
The leaflets are also available on our North Highland web pages http://www.snh.org.uk/scottish/nhighland/publications.asp
Finally, and still sticking to our geological theme, watch out for details of an open day SNH is planning at Achanarras in Caithness this summer to launch our new visitor facilities here. Achanarras Quarry is an internationally known site for fossil fish finds and SNH is currently investing in a range of improvements to make visits more interesting and enjoyable.
Key Earth Science Sites In Caithness - From www.fettes.com
SCOTLAND'S FIRST EUROPEAN GEOPARK AWARDED
Online Geoscience Journals
American Journal of Science
European Geological Surveys
European Geological Surveys Home Page..
Foregs Forum of the European Geological Surveys Directors
GEIXS European Geological Data Resource
Austria - Geological Survey of Austria (Geologische Bundesanstalt)
Czech Republic - CGU - Czech Geological Survey (Ceský Geologický Ústav)
Denmark - GEUS - Danmarks og Grřnlands Geologiske Undersřgelse
Estonia - GSE - Geological Survey of Estonia
Finland - GTK - Geological Survey of Finland (Geologian Tutkimuskeskus)
France - BRGM - Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Miničres
Germany - BGR - Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe
Greece - IGME - Greek Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration
Hungary - MGS - Hungarian Geological Survey (Magyar Geológai Szolgálat)
Lithuania - Geological Survey of Lithuania
Netherlands - NITG - Nederlands Instituut voor Tregepaste Geowetenschappen
Norway - NGU - Norges Geologiske Undersřkelse
Portugal - Instituto Geológica e Mineiro
Slovenia - Uprava Republike Slovenije za Geofiziko
Spain - ITGE - Instituto Tecnologico GeoMinero de Espańa
Sweden - SGU - Sveriges Geologiska Undersökning
United Kingdom BGS British Geological Survey
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