Activities on the protection of geological heritage, the identification and study of unique geosites are a priority area of GeolCom-VSEGEI.
Since the mid-80s of the last century, by order of the USSR State Committee for Nature Protection, the Ministry of Nature Management, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, our institute has been working on the creation of scientific and methodological principles for systematic studying unique geosites, the database is being developed and filled with protected and proposed for the protection geosites of national and world significance, and documentary, geological and cartographic materials on this subject have been prepared.
A lot of work in this area was done by employees of the TsNIGR Museum. In 1998, by the 300th anniversary of the Mining and Geological Survey of Russia, the museum staff, with the participation of geologists from various scientific and industrial organizations of our country, prepared and in 2000 published the monograph “Geological sites of Russia’s Nature”.
In 2012, VSEGEI compiled the country’s first electronic “Map of Unique Geosites of Russia, scale: 1:2,500,000”, which served as a basis for the creation of the website “Unique Geosites of Russia”. By 2014, the Information Support Sector completed the development of the first stage of the information-cartographic system of unique geosites of Russia and preparing the list, with geographic reference, of geological targets of particular importance: stratotypes and reference sections, which are an important element in regional exploration and require priority conservation.
In recent years, the staff of our institute has been actively working to develop interdisciplinary approaches and popularize knowledge of unique geosites among scientists, students, nature lovers. Through the efforts of enthusiastic geologists of VSEGEI, the Karst Group was formed under the leadership of Yu.S. Lyakhnitsky, Chairman of the Karstology and Speleology Commission of the Russian Geographical Society. For many years, the group has been exploring caves, organizing the conservation of geolosites and karst caves, and developing methods for organizing nature museums. They have developed and are implementing the concept of the regulated use of important geological sites using caves as an example. Ten projects have been prepared for the creation of environmental visit-centres, the first of which, Sablino, has been successfully operating for about 20 years; the most famous are the routes in the Vorontsov cave system in Sochi National Park and in Kapova Cave in Bashkortostan.
The activities of VSEGEI employees in geological heritage conservation were widely recognized at the international level. In 1997, a group of Russian geologists, which mainly consisted of VSEGEI employees, joined the European Association for the Conservation of the Geological Heritage (ProGEO), which is part of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Today, ProGEO is the world’s leading organization for the geological heritage study and conservation. In 2007, the head of the Russian group, senior researcher of our institute Marina Vdovets was elected vice president of the Association.