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Australia’s human heritage is well known, with our aboriginal peoples acknowledged as the oldest surviving culture in the world, extending at least 60000 years.
Our natural heritage goes even further – with rock outcrops in Western Australia extending from the Archean (about 3.6 Billion years ago) to recent surficial and unconsolidated deposits which form our rivers, streams, coastlines and shape our deserts. These collectively provide evidence of geological processes and events that have shaped our continent and even influenced our understanding of our planet.
Geological heritage – though important – is insufficiently protected, and there are limited legislative protections safeguarding this knowledge and understanding for future generations.
Government led geoscience efforts to date have primarily focused on baseline geoscience acquisition for the purposes of identifying mineral and energy resources and while a tremendous amount of data and information is collected from Geological Surveys and their Federal counterparts. However, there remains a gap in understanding and appreciating geo-heritage sites of significance and ensuring their ongoing protection and preservation.
In addition, the intrinsic value, aesthetics and appeal of certain locations lead to tourism related opportunities. Geo-tourism is rapidly gaining popularity overseas and many attractions and supporting industries are now operational including in Indonesia and New Zealand. There remains an opportunity – and obligation – of adequately manage our geo-heritage site and information while facilitating the development and promotion of a thriving yet sustainable geo-tourism industry in the Northern Territory.