Fossil heritage conservation in Scotland


A globally significant palaeontological resource is an integral part of Scotland’s geoheritage. A strong amateur collector tradition, extending back over two centuries has helped fuel scientific advance with the fossil resource also supporting hobby collecting. However, during the long history of collecting activity, finite fossil resources have been under pressure with instances of large-scale collecting that has damaged some particularly vulnerable localities. Legislative provisions over recent decades offer robust site-based protection that will have safeguarded some of the best and most representative fossil localities. Additionally, the Scottish Fossil Code, the first national code of its type, has had a role in helping to raise awareness of Scotland’s fossil heritage and engender its responsible collecting and subsequent care. The Code as designed appears to be working to an extent. However bespoke site management approaches are required for the most vulnerable localities with additional site safeguard measures being adopted where required. Care is being given to ensure that ongoing and potential future efforts to curb occasional instances of damaging collecting activity do not operate to the detriment of the amateur collector tradition and the encouragement of interest in palaeontology particularly in younger and future generations.

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