The World Cultural and Natural Patrimony Convention was adopted in the 1972 UNESCO General Conferece, in accordance with ICOMOS - International Council for Monuments and Sites, with the purpose of preserving the unremovable testimonies of old civilizations and natural landscapes.

    This International Convention  was adopted in 1989 by 111 Part-Coutries, Brasil between them.  The fundamental objective is the recognition of natural and cultural sites around all the world that are of exceptional interest and of a such universal value that their protection is considered to be of all Mankind responsability.

    In adopting this Convention, the nations recognize that:

(a) each country maintains under its custody for the rest of Mankind those parts, either natural as cultural, of the World Heritage,

(b) the international community has the compromise of supporting any nation in the practice of this responsibility, if the resources of this nation are not sufficient, and

(c)  Mankind must exercise the same sense of  responsibility for the works of the Nature,  as well as for the works made by its own human hands.
Nevertheless, the domain of any World Heritage Site is exercised by the country where the site is located and the inclusion in the World Patrimony List is made only by the concerning nation.

    The international cooperative mechanism is the  World Heritage Committee (WHC) composed by 21 specialists elected by and amongst the 100 nations that signed the Convention, with an equitative representation of the different regions and cultures of the world.

    The World Heritage Sites are divided in two main sections: one cultural and the other natural, the last one including Geology and Paleobiology. These sites are sufficiently selectives and strictly limited in number.

    With the purpose of geological identification of the sites of exceptional universal value, in 1989/90 was started a listing, world broad, named Global Indicative List of Geological Sites (GILGES). This list is available to the World Heritage Committee in view to support suitable decisions.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) orientates the final decision of the World Heritage Committee (Coutries-Part), in basis of the indications brought to it. It must be emphasized that GILGES list is not a definitive one and requests a submission to be revised. It's an open-ended list and its implementation can be done either by aditions as well by supression, which means, it is iteractive by its own nature.

    The Working Group on Geological and Palaeobiological Sites (Geotopes) is a cooperative project  of UNESCO (through World Patrimony Secretary of Ecological Sciences Division), IUGS (International Union of Geological Sciences), IGCP (International Geological Correlation Programme) and IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). The three most common areas of activity of this Working Group are:

1. World Heritage List, in which are prepared the recomendations to the IUCN;

2. Global Indicative List of Geological Sites -  GILGES with a few hundreds of sites listed up to now and new proposals being received.

3. Global Database of Geological Sites - IUGS GEOSITES.

    The Global Data Base is established in Trondheim, Norwege, at the IUGS Secretary, which is encharged to provide informations about maximum possible number of geological sites at a worldwide level, amplifying and giving support to the GILGES. It must expand gradually to  include thousands of sites of first order of importance to the global geology and palaeobiology. IUGS GEOSITES represent an important contribuition to IUGS, expressing its big interest in the World Heritage work.

    At the end of 1993, the National Department of Mineral Production of Brazil-DNPM (Departamento Nacional de Produção Mineral) was requested to give support to the Working Group on Geological and Palaeobiological Sites of the World Heritage by its presidente Dr. J.W.Cowie, with proposals to Brazil for the GILGES and/or to the Global Database of Geological Sites - IUGS GEOSITES. In consequence it was reccomended to create in the DNPM ambit a National Working Group of the Geological and Palaeobiological Sites, in support to the international group.

    At 1997 march, DNPM promoted in its headquarters, in Brasília, a meeting of various institutions aiming an effective and broad brazilian participation, according to the objectives proposed by that Working Group. In this way it was instituted the Brazilian Commission on Geological and Palaeobiological Sites-SIGEP (Comissão Brasileira dos Sítios Geológicos e Paleobiológicos), today represented by the Brazilian Academy of Sciences-ABC (Academia Brasileira de Ciências), the Brazilian Association of Quaternary Studies-ABEQUA (Associação Brasileira para Estudos do Quaternário), the National Department of Mineral Production-DNPM (Departamento Nacional de Produção Mineral), the Environment Institute of Brazil-IBAMA (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis), the National Historical and Artistic Patrimony Institute-IPHAN (Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional), the Geological Survey of Brazil-CPRM (Serviço Geológico do Brasil), the Brazilian Speleological Society-SBE (Sociedade Brasileira de Espeleologia), the Geological Society of Brazil-SBGeo (Sociedade Brasileira de Geologia) and the Paleontological Society of Brazil-SBP (Sociedade Brasileira de Paleontologia).

    It was established that the main duty of SIGEP – to organize the brazilian sites indicated to the GILGES – had to be supported by the management of a national data bank in a permanent updating. For that, the Commission will be gathering proposals, recording new significative occurrences and evaluating the risk and degradation conditions of the candidate sites. Once approved, the sites had to be obliged to the promotion of basic and applied researches, to the diffusion of knowledge in the Earth sciences area, to the strengthening of a conservationist conscientiousness, to the stimulus of educational activities, recreative or touristics, always in prol of the participation and social-economic development of local communities. All these goals are followed by the necessity of establishing own strategies of monitoring and maintenance of integrity of the major geological sites of Brazil.

    As part of the objectives of the program, the brazilian group, aiming the national and international divulgation, defined as a goal the edition of a technical book dealing, with many details, the most standing out geological and palaeontological sites of Brazil. Its format, constituted by various volumes, reflects the permanent character of the national evaluations of the geoscientific patrimony. Future volumes will be dealing with the divulgation of new sites countersigned by the geoscientific community.

    In  1998, invitation-letters were ditributed to institutions and researchers incentivating the proposal of sites to be described. Since then, the invitation is opened also to the community in general using internet as the vehicle ( now readdressed to ) being accepted to analysis the indications presented in a specific form. The selective procedure attended the guidance of the Working Group behind referred, of  evaluation of the sites according to a mutual relativity inside a specific tipology (palaeobiologic, palaeoenvironmental, petrologic, stratigraphic, etc.), having as criteria:

i) its singularity in the representation of its tipology or category;
ii) importance in the characterization of regional or global key-geological processes, geological periods and outstanding records of historical evolution of the Earth;
iii) scenic expression;
iv) good state of conservation, and
v) existence of mechanisms assuring conservation.


      The closure of the edition of the first volume happened at the end of 2001, with 58 sites described, organized according individual chapters, of various authors. Each site can represent a punctual occurrence or even a region marked by various representative occurrences. There are also places that gather sites of different natures in respect to the origin, age or specific processes and, in these cases, they are best understood as National Parks or Conservation Unities. 

    The treatment of each site, in the chapter structure, deals with its precise location, justification on its relevance, history of the discovery and synthesis of previous works, its specific characteristics and, finally, the existing mechanisms for its protection, giving prominence to the actual state of conservation of the site, reccomendations and eventual restrictions to the various uses.

    The sites presented in this work attend to some main categories: palaeontologic, palaeoenvironmental, sedimentologic, geomorfologic, marine, igneous, speleologic, history of the geology and one astrobleme.

    Special situations of interest are represented:
a) expressive manifestation of Tertiary magmatic activity as flows, plugs, necks and dikes of alkaline-ultrabasic basaltic composition;
b) outstanding variety of features, typical structures and vestiges of  palaeoenvironments going from Archaean until Quaternary (moutonnée rock, striated pavement, stromatoliths, varvites, classic stratigraphic type-localities and type-sections, sedimentary structures and depositional systems);
c) significative multiplicity of landscapes, shapes and types of topographic relief impressive by their fascinating beauty (ruinform reliefs, inselberg landscapes, plateau scarp borders, suggar loafs, canyons, dune fields, impact structures, etc.); and
d) isolated marks of the history of minnings (Camaquã copper mine, Jaraguá gold trenches, Sopa diamantiferous conglomerate).

    The palaeontological sites, in particular, represent an exuberant multiplicity of fossil specimens, either macro- as micro-animals, vertebrates, invertebrates and vegetals (trees, leaves, pollens, petrified forests, etc.), distributed from the Neoproterozoic up to the Tertiary.

    And, finishing, the speleological sites, mainly developped in Proterozoic carbonatic rocks which, besides the exuberant beauty portrayed all around the Country by wonderful cave porchs, louvers, hydric underground systems and complex articulation galeries, with espeleothems present in delicate adornments or outstanding assemblages, have extraordinary scientific importance for representing and enclosing palaeoenvironmental and palaeobiological records, elucidatives of the climate dynamics that affected our continent during the Quaternary.

Actually, three volumes have been published and their digital copies can be downloaded from this site or by clicking below:

   VOLUME I printed (40 Mb) - DOWNLOAD
   VOLUME II printed (338 Mb) - DOWNLOAD
or [132Mb]
   VOLUME III printed (345Mb) - DOWNLOAD or  [181Mb]


    The Comission has chosen a methodology based in an initial survey according individual proposals, consciously elaborated by geoscientists, using a simplified form  for this first selection.
These proposals are widely disclosed with right to comments, replies and re-replies made avaliable in the Internet and, eventually, in other vehicles of communication.
    In this way, the sites have been proposed in accordance to the
Comission orientation and these new proposals are available in the Internet (portuguese language only) to be improved and criticized by the geoscientific community, either by the proposal itself, as by the suggested author(s), etc.. 
    Once approved the proposal, the article is prepared in accordance with Instructions to the authors, (in portuguese only) and the site is edited and published in the Internet. Is important to say that the geossites articles are, according to this methodology, written by people that really studied the area.

    So the publication of the articles in the Internet composes  the "SIGEP database"  of a dynamic and permanent nature, as it is preview in the UNESCO Project (GILGES). From this base are selected the articles that merit to be published in book; the articles published will be object of finer selection to compose the proposal to UNESCO of SITES OF MANKIND WORLD HERITAGE.

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