What is a UNESCO Geopark?
UNESCO Global Geoparks are geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed according to a global concept of protection, education and sustainable development. Their bottom-up approach, combining conservation and sustainable development while involving local communities, is becoming increasingly popular. Elsewhere in the country and in the world, Percé is often cited as a reference, since it was itself founded through a social solidarity cooperative.
In 2018, there are 140 UNESCO Global Geoparks distributed across 38 countries. The majority of Geoparks are located in China and Europe, while more and more "In the Making" Geoparks are appearing on all five continents. At the moment, we have five in North America, two in Mexico and three in Canada. These are Stonehammer Geopark, located in southern New Brunswick, Tumbler Ridge Geopark, located in British Columbia and the Geopark of Percé (Quebec) which obtained the official status of UNESCO World Geopark in April 2018.
The history of world geoparks
UNESCO has been working with Geoparks since 2001. In 2004 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, 17 European Geoparks and 8 Chinese Geoparks formed the Global Geoparks Network (GGN), where national initiatives for the country's geological heritage benefit from belonging to a global network of exchange and cooperation.
The 17 November 2015, the 195 Member States of UNESCO have ratified the creation of a new label, the UNESCO World Geoparks, during the 38th General Conference of the Organization.
The adoption of this label shows the importance given by governments to the holistic management of exceptional sites and geological landscapes. UNESCO and GGN support the efforts of Member States to establish UNESCO Global Geoparks worldwide.
The UNESCO Global Geopark in Percé is located at the eastern end of the Gaspé Peninsula, in eastern Quebec, Canada. The climate of the peninsula, greatly influenced by its relief, is generally classified as boreal with cold and dry winters (-20 ° C), but mild summers (more than 10 ° C).
Its territory presents two distinct environments: terrestrial and marine. The terrestrial environment has various reliefs, while the marine environment offers a great diversity of landscapes such as cliffs, islands, beaches and bays. This area contains several ecosystems that give the region its diversity in terms of fauna and flora. The most remarkable and famous natural phenomenon is the presence of the most accessible colony of Northern Gannets on Bonaventure Island, with more than 121 000 Gannets listed in 2008.
Percé also witnessed the birth of geology in Canada, since it was in this region that Sir William Logan, the first director of the Geological Survey of Canada, began geological mapping of Canada.
Geology of the territory
The UNESCO Global Geopark in Percé is located in the heart of a large orogenic chain, called the Appalachians, which covers the Atlantic side of the North American continent. Its formation, related to magmatic and tectonic events, is related to the opening of the Atlantic Ocean during the Jurassic and Cretaceous (about 150 million years ago). During the last 20 000 years, during the last ice age, the Quebec segment of this chain was subjected to the erosive action of glacial elements, which shaped the current landscape.
Visitors to the UNESCO Global Geopark can discover a territory particularly rich in rock archives (rocks and fossils) and various forms of relief that bear witness to its past and recent past. The rocks record 170 million years of regional geological history in a very small area (40 km²) and it is possible to see some glacial remains of the Quaternary. These rocks, unlike many of their counterparts elsewhere in the Appalachians, are weakly metamorphosed, allowing the textures and structures formed during their deposition to be recognized.
The rocks allow to contemplate several geological phenomena: from sedimentation to fault processes (from meter to kilometer) and deformation related to erosion, sedimentary transport, landslides, fossils and coal deposits (only known presence of coal in the province of Quebec).
The mission of a Geopark is to protect and conserve the integrity of a site's geological heritage for the benefit of present and future generations. The enhancement and conservation of the site are the very foundations of the Geopark concept. It becomes a tool for sustainable development for communities. The information is adapted according to the history, the culture, the climatic conditions and the geographical situation of the site.