A geopark is a unified area that advances the protection and use of geological heritage in a sustainable way, and promotes the economic well-being of the people who live there. There are global geoparks and national geoparks.
A UNESCO definition of global geopark is a unified area with a geological heritage of international significance. Geoparks use that heritage to promote awareness of key issues facing society in the context of our dynamic planet. Many geoparks promote awareness of geological hazards, including volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis and many help prepare disaster mitigation strategies with local communities. Geoparks embody records of past climate changes and are indicators of current climate changes as well as demonstrating a “best practise” approach to using renewable energy and employing the best standards of “green tourism”. Tourism industry promotion in geoparks, as a geographically sustainable and applicable tourism model, aims to sustain, and even enhance, the geographical character of a place.
Geoparks also inform about the sustainable use and need for natural resources, whether they are mined, quarried or harnessed from the surrounding environment while at the same time promoting respect for the environment and the integrity of the landscape. Geoparks are not a legislative designation though the key heritage sites within a geopark are often protected under local, regional or national legislation. The multidisciplinary nature of the concept of geopark and tourism promotion in geoparks differentiates itself from other models of sustainable tourism. In fact, sustainable tourism promotion within geoparks encompasses many of the features of sustainable tourism including geo-tourism (geo-site tourism: as a basic factor), community-based tourism and integrated rural tourism (as a vital need), ecotourism, and cultural heritage tourism.
The Global Geoparks Network (GGN) is a UNESCO activity established in 1998. According to UNESCO, for a geopark to apply to be included in the GGN, it needs to:
have a management plan designed to foster socio-economic development that is sustainable based on geotourism
demonstrate methods for conserving and enhancing geological heritage and provide means for teaching geoscientific disciplines and broader environmental issues
have joint proposals submitted by public authorities, local communities and private interests acting together, which demonstrate the best practices with respect to Earth heritage conservation and its integration into sustainable development strategies.
International Geopark Networks
European Geopark Network
Founded in 2000, the network in July 2011 included 43 geo-parks from 17 countries. As of July 2015, 65 geoparks from 22 countries are already members of the network. Six German Geoparks are currently members of the network. It supports its members in public relations and sustainable management. It promotes mutual cooperation among its members, holds joint education and training conferences and promotes soft geotourism in the connected regions. Membership is linked to membership of the Global Network of UNESCO Geoparks.
Global Network of National Geoparks
The UNESCO supported initiatives since 2002, a global network of national Geoparks (Global Network of National Geoparks) to create.
Established in 2004, the Global Network of National Geoparks aims to promote sustainable tourism. The network aims to support regions throughout the world that integrate their outstanding geological heritage into a dedicated socio-economic regional development concept. This strategy should equally promote the protection and use of geotopes.
UNESCO Global Geoparks
In 2015 UNESCO designated the UNESCO Global Geopark as the third category for the designation of sites (after the World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves). The network of Global Geoparks was integrated into UNESCO’s “International Geoscience and Geoparks Program” (IGGP). These parks are members of the Global Geoparks Network, founded in 2014
Geological heritage of the geoparks
When speaking of a particular geological heritage, one refers to a certain number of places of geological interest that stand out in terms of:
Scientific interest (record of events and geological processes that allows to understand the past and helps predict)
Singularity (places and unique or rare geological elements)
Representativeness (places and representative elements of materials, structures and / or geological processes)
Aesthetic value (beauty, spectacularity, ability to thrill)
Didactic value (facility to explain and understand materials, structures and / or geological processes)
Every geopark must contain elements of geological heritage, and use it in a sustainable way together with elements of archaeological, ecological, historical or cultural interest for tourism, education and local socio-economic development.
The geoparks collaborate closely with each other, so that they form a European network (European Geoparks Network) that allows each territory to benefit from joint measures of geological heritage protection and management.
Global Network and UNESCO
The Global Geoparks Network (GGN) is supported by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Many national geoparks and other local geoparks projects also exist which are not included in the Global Geoparks Network.
The geoparks initiative was launched by UNESCO in response to the perceived need for an international initiative that recognizes sites representing an earth science interest. Global Geoparks Network aims at enhancing the value of such sites while at the same time creating employment and promoting regional economic development. The Global Geoparks Network works in synergy with UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and Man and the Biosphere (MAB) World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
List by country/territory
Many of the names in the list below appear in slightly different forms in different documents or webpages, particularly where they have been anglicised. Dates of accession to network, where not otherwise referenced are taken from UNESCO website.
|Austria||Europe||Carnic Alps Geopark||2012|
|Austria||Europe||Ore of the Alps Geopark||2014|
|Canada||North America||Tumbler Ridge||2014|
|China||Asia||Sanqingshan Geopark, Jiangxi||2012|
|Czech Republic||Europe||Bohemian Paradise||2005|
|Denmark||Europe||Odsherred Global Geopark||2014|
|France||Europe||Massif des Bauges||2011|
|France||Europe||Causses du Quercy||2017|
|France||Europe||Monts d’Ardeche Global Geopark||2014|
|Germany||Europe||Harz Braunschweiger Land Ostfalen||2005|
|Hungary-Slovakia||Europe||Novohrad – Nograd Geopark||2010|
|Iceland||Europe||Reykjanes Global Geopark||2015|
|Indonesia||Asia||Batur Geopark, Bali||2012|
|Indonesia||Asia||Gunung Sewu Geopark, Java||2015|
|Ireland||Europe||Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark||2011|
|Italy||Europe||Cilento and Vallo di Diano||2010|
|Italy||Europe||Geological-Mining Park of Sardinia||2007|
|Italy||Europe||Geopark of Pollino||2007|
|Italy||Europe||Rocca di Cerere||2008|
|Italy||Europe||Sesia – Val Grande Geopark||2013|
|Italy||Europe||Tuscan Mining Park||2010|
|Japan||Asia||Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano||2009|
|Japan||Asia||Unzen Volcanic Area||2009|
|Mexico||North America||Comarca Minera, Hidalgo||2017|
|Mexico||North America||Mixteca Alta, Oaxaca||2017|
|Morocco||Africa||M’Goun Global Geopark||2014|
|Netherlands||Europe||Geopark de Hondsrug||2013|
|Poland/Germany||Europe||Muskau Bend Landscape Park||2011|
|Portugal||Europe||Land of Knights Geopark||2015|
|Romania||Europe||Hateg Country Dinosaur Geopark||2005|
|South Korea||Asia||Jeju Island||2010|
|South Korea||Asia||Mudeungsan Area||2018|
|Spain||Europe||Basque Coast Geopark||2010|
|Spain||Europe||Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park||2006|
|Spain||Europe||Central Catalonia Geopark||2012|
|Spain||Europe||Conca de Tremp-Montsec||2018|
|Spain||Africa||El Hierro Global Geopark||2015|
|Spain||Europe||Las Loras Geopark||2017|
|Spain||Europe||Sierra Norte di Sevilla, Andalusia||2004|
|Spain||Europe||Sierras Subeticas Natural Park||2006|
|Spain||Europe||Villuercas Ibores Jara Geopark||2011|
|Spain||Europe||Lanzarote and Chinijos Islands Geopark||2015|
|Spain||Europe||Molina de Aragón – Alto Tajo Geopark||2014|
|Tanzania||Africa||Ngorongoro Lengai Geopark||2018|
|Turkey||Asia||Kula Volcanic Geopark||2013|
|United Kingdom/Ireland||Europe||Marble Arch and Cuilcagh Mountain||2004|
|United Kingdom||Europe||North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty||2004|
|United Kingdom||Europe||Fforest Fawr||2005|
|United Kingdom||Europe||North West Highlands||2005|
|United Kingdom||Europe||English Riviera||2007|
|Uruguay||South America||Grutas del Palacio Geopark||2013|
|Vietnam||Asia||Cao Bang Geopark||2018|
|Vietnam||Asia||Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark||2010|
Source from Wikipedia