In 1983, the Geological Society of NZ saw that the greatest impediment to protecting the best representative examples of all our important earth science features, was a lack of readily accessible information on exactly which these sites were. As a result compilation of the New Zealand Geopreservation Inventory was begun.
Initially it was compiled under the auspices of a Joint New Zealand Earth Science Societies' Working Group on Geopreservation, comprising representatives of the Geological Society of NZ, Australia and NZ Geomorphology Group, NZ Geographical Society, NZ Soil Sciences Society, NZ Speleological Association and NZ Assoc of Landscape Architects. The Inventory of geological sites and landforms is now maintained by the Geological Society of New Zealand, with a copy held by the Department of Conservation in Wellington. The Inventory of representative soil sites is now maintained by the NZ Soil Sciences Society.
The Inventory was initially compiled nation-wide under different subject categories (e.g. fossil sites, igneous sites, caves and karst, etc). Few field surveys were undertaken specifically for the inventory compilation, instead the combined knowledge and advice of the majority of New Zealand's earth scientists was utilised, representing hundreds of person years of field work. This information was provided voluntarily by all informants despite the advent of the user-pays environment which was being imposed on NZ science by politicians. It clearly illustrates the level of concern and commitment to earth science conservation by most in the NZ earth science community. Data gathering and computer input was undertaken by recent earth science graduates (funded by grants from Lottery Science and the Dept of Conservation), under the supervision of experienced specialists in the subject area.
Following the completion of all subject category inventories, the listings were combined and Regional Inventories produced. These have been distributed to all land management agencies and conservation groups in the country. This information is now widely used to identify the most important and most threatened sites which should be given priority for protection in each region. Regional and District Plans prepared throughout the country since the early 1990s under the RMA give various levels of planning protection for about 1000 identified earth science sites.
The inventory of important geological sites and landforms currently contains 2576 sites New Zealand-wide. It is computerised with a wide variety of data about each site, including an assessment of its scientific, educational or scenic importance (c.200 have an international ranking, c.900 national and the remainder regional). Despite the enormous effort so far expended in compiling this inventory it can never be regarded as complete or the last word. Some important sites have undoubtedly been overlooked and the assessed importance of some sites will change as more information is gathered and their natural state of preservation alters. We are always receptive to nominations of additional sites or to information that may correct current entries. Please send these to the convenor of the Geopreservation Inventory (firstname.lastname@example.org).