World Commission on Protected Areas


The IUCN WCPA Geoheritage Specialist Group (GSG) provides specialist advice on all aspects of geodiversity in relation to protected areas and their management. This includes caves and karst.
Cenote, Mexico

Specialist Group Leaders

Kyung Sik WOO Wesley HILL
Kyung Sik Woo Wesley Hill, IUCN WCPA Geoheritage Specialist Group Leader

IUCN WCPA Geoheritage Specialist Group TOR 2017-2020

Geodiversity refers to the variety of the geological and physical elements of nature, such as minerals, rocks, soils, fossils and landforms, and active geological and geomorphological processes. Together with biodiversity, geodiversity constitutes the natural diversity of planet Earth.

IUCN is the global organisation with the longest consistent role in geoconservation

IUCN’s interest in geodiversity management and in geoheritage conservation (known as geoconservation) has increased in the last decade.

Since 2015, IUCN’s “Protected Area Governance and Management” handbook contains a chapter on geoconservation. The specialist group is now preparing a 'Best Practice Guideline on Geoheritage Conservation in Protected Areas' and is updating the 2009 “IUCN thematic study on World Heritage Volcanoes.

Related IUCN Resolutions and areas of work

IUCN Members, who include government and civil society organisations, have adopted resolutions in 2008, 2012 and 2016 calling on the global conservation community to support the protection and management of the world’s geodiversity and geoheritage.

WCC 2016 Res 083: Conservation of moveable geological heritage

WCC 2012 Res 048: Valuing and conserving geoheritage within the IUCN Programme 2013–2016

WCC 2008 RES 040: Conservation of geodiversity and geological heritage

Geodiversity and geoconservation are also relevant to IUCN policies and strategies, and contribute to many of IUCN’s areas of work such as: climate change, ecosystem management, environmental law, protected areas, science and knowledge, water, and World Heritage.

Geodiversity is an important consideration in the priorities set by the IUCN Programme 2017-2020. Geodiversity and geoconservation contribute to achieving the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They provides society with diverse benefits based on regulating, supporting, provisioning, and cultural services.

IUCN’s support for UNESCO Global Geoparks

IUCN has had a long-standing role supporting the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network since its establishment in 2004, and is a non-voting member of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Council, which is responsible for governing UNESCO’s International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme. In 2015, areas designated as part of the network gained a higher status of recognition, following a decision to recognise them fully as “UNESCO Global Geoparks”.

Today the world counts 128 Global Geoparks in 35 countries.They include areas with geological features heritage of international significance, which have no formal legal protection and are rather conserved through a bottom-up, community-led approach.



Go to top