Heritage and Planning
Tetrapod Trackway Valentia Island GSI as the national earth science agency naturally attempts to support the appreciation of geological heritage within Irish society. These pages display just how we approach this and the breadth of the work carried out within this area.

The most important piece of work undertaken in this area is the Irish Geological Heritage Programme (IGH).  The programme started in 1998 and has evolved with examination of the inventory and protection processes applied to geological heritage operating in other European countries (including the active participation with colleagues in the European Association for the Conservation of the Geological Heritage, ProGEO).

The programme is a partnership between GSI and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). It aims to identify, document the wealth of geological heritage in the Republic of Ireland within an overall framework of 16 themes, and protect and conserve it against ever increasing threats through local authority planning, and also to promote its value with the landowners and the public.

GSI provides scientific appraisal and interpretative advice on geological and geomorphological sites and is responsible for the identification of important sites that are capable of being conserved as Natural Heritage Areas (NHA). NPWS have the responsibility of designation and management of sites with appropriate advice from GSI.

This programme has also a whole host of other duties and responsibilities.  These include liaison with Local Authorities in the preparation of their County Development Plans and Heritage Plans to include geological heritage in the planning system (see planning section for details). The programme also provides input in Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment mainly for geological heritage but coordinates consultation with and submission from other GSI programmes when required (see EIA and SEA section for details).

The area of outreach is important too: the programme provides geological input into National Heritage Week and has produced several exhibitions which explain geology in simple terms.  These exhibitions are available for display in museums, libraries and similar buildings throughout the country. The programme also assist Geoparks through the Geoparks Ireland Forum.

For sales or product enquires or those relating to GSI Memoirs, GSI Publications and GSI Unpublished (Grey Cover) Reports, please contact the Customer Centre directly.

For specific enquiries relating to the Irish Geological Heritage Programme please note that national datasets have been released on GSI public viewer.
Under the heading "Geological Heritage", the layer "Geological Sites Boundaries" compiles all County Geological Sites (CGS) surveyed to date through audits. The layer "Geological Sites No Boundaries" compiles sites of geological heritage interest not surveyed yet, therefore their location is approximate and a buffer has been applied to each. For further information or clarification, please contact Sarah Gatley (sarah.gatley@gsi.ie).

Programme staff and their areas of expertise are as follows.

Sarah GatleySarah Gatley, Senior Geologist
Sarah is currently working on geological heritage site and theme data to progress geological Natural Heritage Area (NHA) designations through National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS), and ensure their ongoing recognition as County Geological Sites (CGS) in the planning system. She is GSI representative on several Heritage Fora and project manages county geological heritage site audits and reports (which have been carried out for 8 local authorities to date, most recently for Fingal, Meath, Kilkenny and Waterford).

Sarah is the national representative for ProGEO (conservation of geological heritage) and participant in their Northern European Working Group. She is the GSI geological representative for the Copper Coast Geopark and contributes to Irish Geopark projects and European Interreg funded projects. She also works in partnership with the Irish Concrete Federation (ICF) in addressing geological heritage in the extractive industry.

Matthew ParkesMatthew Parkes, Scientific Visitor*
Matthew Parkes has now left the IGH Programme, to work permanently in the Natural History Museum in Dublin, as Assistant Keeper dealing with Earth Sciences. To contact Matthew directly you may email mparkes@museum.ie or ring the Museum switchboard on 01-6777444. Matthew will still be assisting with GSI's fossil and rock collections and enquiries regarding them will be dealt with. MHTI enquiries may also be addressed to Matthew.

* SCIENTIFIC VISITOR is an honorary position granted to certain individuals, enabling them to continue their work through access to GSI facilities, though not on a full-time basis.