The Department of Conservation and Built Heritage within the Faculty for the Built Environment, University of Malta was instrumental in promoting Maltese Globigerina Limestone on an international level and for it to be assigned global recognition.
The Executive Committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), through its sub-commission Heritage Stones (HSS) under the direction of Prof. Dolores Pereira of the University of Salamanca (Spain) has recently approved the designation of Maltese Globigerina Limestone as a Global Heritage Stone Resource (GHSR), together with six other stones from as many other countries. These are: Lioz from Portugal; Lede Stone from Belgium; Jacobsville stone from the USA; Kolmården serpentine marble from Sweden; Welsh slate from Wales; and Piedra Mar del Plata from Argentina. These bring the total number of approved GHSR designations to 15.
The other designated stones are: Portland Stone (UK), Petit granite (Belgium), Larvikite (Norway), Podpêc limestone (Slovenia), Hallandia gneiss (Sweden), Carrara marble (Italy), Villamayor Stone (Spain) and Estremoz marble (Portugal). More information can be found at: www.globalheritagestone.com
The nomination for the global recognition of the Maltese Globigerina Limestone was led by the Department of Conservation and Built Heritage, and involved also the Department of Geosciences of the University of Malta.
The main goal of the IUGS HSS is to recognise those stones that have been in historic use for a significant period of time and have common recognition as a cultural icon, as requirements of the IUGS for the stone to be designated a Global Heritage Stone Resource. The process for designation is now well-established and painstaking, and the initial nomination by the interested party is followed by a long and detailed review procedure by selected experts in the field, as well as by the sub-commission itself. The GHSR designation was recognised as a geological standard by the IUGS EC in 2017.
The Global Heritage Stone Resource designation was first set up in 2008 to seek international recognition for natural stone resources that have achieved widespread utilisation in human culture. Natural stone has been used for construction and other purposes for thousands of years and is part of human tradition. GHSR designation aims to promote greater prominence for natural stone that has been used in artistic and architectural masterpieces, and heritage buildings, as well as routine historic stone applications. GHSR designation also aims to enhance recognition of natural stone amongst geologists, engineers, architects, heritage professionals, stone industry managers and other groups that work with stone. In addition, GHSR designation offers a mechanism to formalise the characteristics of natural stone material, for professional purposes and assist international co-operation into the research and utilisation of natural stone.
GHSR designation is independent of World Heritage status, granted under the 1972 UNESCO Convention, and is separate from any other national or international designations or standards. However, GHSR designation may specifically complement the efforts of UNESCO World Heritage in helping to safeguard stone resources that are needed for preservation of historic stone constructions at certain World Heritage sites.