What is a geopark?

Geopark

A Geopark is a protected area comprising a number of geological heritage sites of particular importance, because of their rarity or aesthetics. These heritage sites of the Earth are part of an integrated concept of protection, education and sustainable development.

A framework for exploration

The main objective of a Geopark is primarily to maintain the structure of its habitat, its fauna and it’s flora.

The cultural, scientific and educational aspects of a region will be transmitted to visitors.

A Geopark achieves its objectives through a three-pronged approach: conservation, education and geotourism. A Geopark offers a framework for exploration and observation, where you can touch, examine and reconnect with specimens of interest, such as rock structures, rare plants and animal species.

The cultural, scientific and educational aspects of a region will be transmitted to visitors.

Conservation of heritage

The mission of a Geopark is to protect and preserve the integrity of the geological heritage of a site for the benefit of present and future generations.

Enhancement and conservation of the site are the very foundations of the concept of Geoparks. It thus becomes a tool for sustainable development for communities. Information is adapted according to the history, culture, climate and geographic location of the site.

On a global scale

In 2015, there were 111 Global Geoparks spread across 32 countries.

The majority of Geoparks are located in China and Europe, while more and more « soon to be » Geoparks appear on all five continents. For now, there is only one in North America, the Stonehammer Geopark, located in southern New Brunswick.

The Global Network of Geoparks

The first meeting of the Global Network of Geoparks was held in Beijing, China in 2004. Seventeen European Geoparks attended this meeting, during which joined eight new Chinese Geoparks. The European Geoparks Network was the first created and consequently, it is plausible that the first Geopark is of European origin.

The Geoparks Network works in close synergy with the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO, the Man and the Biosphere Programme as well as nongovernmental organizations involved in geological heritage conservation.

This network requires high quality standards in the services offered by the Parks: sharing strategies and best practices for the preservation and development of geotourism, exchange of knowledge and assistance to Geoparks in the various problems they may encounter through the world.

The role of UNESCO

Since 2001, UNESCO provided support for Geoparks, at the express request of the Member States.

The support of UNESCO meets a real need expressed by many countries geoscience communities who want to create an international geoconservation to showcase the heritage of the Earth. This new strategy aims to conserve and sustainably manage landscapes and geological formations, key witnesses in the history of life on Earth, while stimulating the regional economy and cultural development.

The support is a natural extension of UNESCO’s work, insofar as the approach of the Geopark is a real interdisciplinary network of international cooperation for the study of the Earth system, while providing support to local communities.

Activities

Research and discovery of fossils

The exploration of rare species

Thematic Tours: historic, heritage, botany, wildlife

The discovery of the last ice age

The history of the heritage area

Scientific activities

Bird watching and identification of their song

A photo tour

Hiking trails

Bike lanes

Formal and informal training

Cultural activities

References

http://stonehammergeoparc.com/main.html

http://sp.lyellcollection.org/content/300/1/273.abstract

http://www.unesco.org/new/fr/natural-sciences/environment/earth-sciences/geoparks

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001500/150007f.pdf