Living amongst the Non-Living
Aristotle viewed that Nature was divided into living and non-living objects -- a view which is still widely accepted. In the category of non-living, we don't include vampires and ghouls, rather we think that this category encompasses all things geological: rocks, minerals, fossils and landforms. Underlying our life in nature and culture, is geology. During climate change, bedrock will continue to contribute to the make-up of agricultural soil and nutrients. Biology is the fleeting butterfly, while geology tears down mountains, so to speak.
High mountains and deep fjords
The nature around us is a result of the geological processes which have resulted in volcanoes, plate movements, earthquakes and past climate change. These processes produced the flat agricultural settlements of the Jæren region, the high mountains and deep fjords in Western Norway, the cliffs of the Lofotens and the Helgeland archipelago. A combination of complex and unique events are behind each place, traces of which can still be found which help us tell the geological history of an area.
Places like the Kannesteinen formation near Måløy or Jutulhogget canyon in Alvdal are the well known geological attractions that draw tourists. Other sites, like the limestone dragon (kalkdragene) near Mjøsa, has influenced the biodiversity in a clear way. Some localities are scientifically important, without necessarily being visually spectacular. In Nesseby municipality in Finnmark we find have traces of an event that occurred several hundred million years ago, when the climate suddenly and drastically changed. The traces of this event can be viewed, an unassuming geological manifestation of an past climate change event that occurred long before the great ice ages that lasted "only" 2.5 million years. Hyllestad, Kongsberg, Alta and the rest of the country reveal traces of quarries and mines from Stone Age and later, demonstrating how natural resources have been and continue to be an important part of cultural development. It is important to disseminate information about these visible geological artifacts and their contribution to the natural and cultural diversity and ensure that they are preserved and sustainably used.
It's a dugnad!
Norwegians understand the importance of a barn-raising activity. A dugnad is just this -- an event that brings together as many people as possible to get a job done. Together with the entire Norwegian geological community, NGU wants to see the topic geological diversity on the agenda. Geology underlies the variation in the biosphere. However, there must also be a greater emphasis on the intrinsic value of geological features in this landscape. For other natural heritage sites in Norway, there are classification systems that describe whether the sites are important or not. Similarly we would like to develop a system of criteria for geological sites, which later can be used for mapping. For this we hope to pull together the geo-scientific community for a good old-fashioned barn-raising, in order to register important sites, which will later be classified.
Although the work started in the 1970's already, much has changed. We therefore invite the geological community to quality-check the current online database and provide their feedback to the information currently entered, and present their suggestions for sites that could be included. The purpose is to build a database that can be used by schools, nature-based tourist industry and government. Educators should be able to search for sites in their area, where students can visit, observe and learn. Those involved in the nature-based tourist industry should be able to use the entries and find information about the geological history of an area to develop and enhance outdoor experience activities. We hope that government can use the material as a tool in their work with the Nature Diversity Act, wherein nature's diversity in § 1 is defined as the sum of the biological diversity, landscape diversity and geological diversity.
In other words, NGU wants to elevate the status of non-living nature and give it the attention it deserves so that both the conservationists, tourists and school students can experience both the living and non-living things in nature.