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The Trust exists to identify and survey geological and geomorphological sites in the two counties and to promote the establishment and protection of Local Geological Sites (formerly known as RIGS) by creating and maintaining a database and by close liaison with the local planning authorities, wildlife trusts, natural history societies, schools and colleges, industry, landowners and those who are interested in Earth Science.
The scheme for identifying and recording Local Geological Sites (LGS) for the whole of the United Kingdom was organised by the Nature Conservancy Council (now part of Natural England) in 1990. Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust began active work when the Geological Records Centre was located at University College Worcester (now the University of Worcester) in 1996.
The whole programme is of major significance in the conservation field and includes policies for the identification and protection of LGS. The selection process is based on clearly defined locally determined criteria such as the use of sites for educational fieldwork and scientific study as well as their historic and aesthetic values.
The Trust has drawn up a ten year proposal to identify and record some 5000 sites and to list those sites that are important, by making the information available to any interested party. All new site information is initially supplied by geologists and geomorphologists undertaking field surveying right across the two counties. This is then processed by the Data Manager and stored at the Geological Records Centre. All of this work is overseen by the Board of Trustees.
Eventually, sites are recommended for designation as LGS. A panel of experts meets around twice a year to critique and determine whether a site meets the strict national criteria for designation. If a site meets that criteria, it is recommended for designation to the relevant Local Authority. The Local Authority gives sites official status by incorporation into Structure Plans, Unitary Development Plans and Local Plans. A current list of designated Local Geological Sites is available to all interested bodies such as District and County Councils, schools, colleges and universities and their students, wildlife trusts and professional and amateur geologists and geographers.
The Trust has an expanding membership base with members and volunteers participating in site recording, site conservation work and public awareness programmes. The Trust encourages local people to join such initiatives by continuing to stage activities such as rock and fossil roadshows and other public events.
In 1998 and 1999, the Trust organised and ran the first and second UK RIGS Conferences at University College Worcester. These were very successful and established strong links between RIGS groups, industry and conservation agencies. The Trust was instrumental in the formation of the Western Association of UK RIGS Groups, now known as The Geology Trusts.