The IGH Programme
The Irish Geological Heritage (IGH) Programme is a partnership between The Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of The Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG). It aims to identify, document, and protect the wealth of geological heritage in the Republic of Ireland and conserve it against ever increasing threats, and also to promote its value with the landowners and the public.

The GSI provide scientific appraisal and interpretative advice on geological and geomorphological sites. They are responsible for the identification of important sites that are capable of being conserved as Natural Heritage Areas (NHA).

The National Parks and Wildlife Service of The Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government have the responsibility of designation and management of sites with appropriate advice from GSI.

The programme started in 1998 and has evolved with examination of the inventory and protection processes operating in other European countries (including the active participation with colleagues in the European Association for the Conservation of the Geological Heritage, ProGEO).

The geological heritage of Ireland is considered and evaluated within an overall framework of 16 themes.

Each theme considers specific aspects, such as stratigraphy, sedimentology, structural geology, volcanic rocks, etc. Each theme addresses all aspects of the particular geology involved, but some sites may be considered within two or more themes.

Under the IGH Programme, expert panels were set up for each theme, resulting in an indicative list of sites worthy of more detailed assessment within the relevant themes. This is a response to the present urgent demands for information for development projects, Environmental Impact Statements and planning.

The site lists are now undergoing a final assessment, with individual Site Reports being written by various panel experts, currently for the IGH6 Minerals and IGH7 Quaternary themes. The site reports will then be followed up by fieldwork to assign boundaries.

Of the majority of geological sites not eventually selected for NHA designation, some are being promoted as County Geological Sites (CGS), which have no statutory protection, but may be included within County Development Plans. Many counties have now adopted County Geological Sites into their development plans, and are promoting their interest through Heritage Plans.