Global Geoparks network created, with UNESCO supportThe First International Conference on Geoparks, held under the aegis of UNESCO and the Ministry of Land and Resources of the People’s Republic of China, will take place from June 27 to 29 in Beijing (China). It aims to promote the development of a global network of sites, which represent exceptional examples of our planet’s geological heritage, to be called Geoparks.
About 50 international specialists will attend. They will describe the current state of Geoparks in the world and present a series of case studies focusing on specific issues: methods and techniques for safeguarding geological heritage; the scientific importance of Geoparks; the relationship between safeguarding Geoparks and their rational use; and the parks’ role in sustainable development of regional economies.
The main purpose of the Conference is to raise awareness of the value of the Earth and its resources, and the importance of protecting and safeguarding our geological heritage, which has a direct impact on people’s quality of life. Geoparks will help stimulate development activities, such as ecological tourism, crafts and cottage industries.
The “Global Network of Geoparks assisted by UNESCO” was established during an international meeting last February 13 at UNESCO. It will provide a platform for cooperation and exchange between experts and practitioners in geological heritage, under the aegis of UNESCO. The list of the global network’s first 25 Geoparks (17 in Europe and 8 in China) was drawn up at the meeting.*
The Geopark concept has so far been developed primarily in Europe. The “European Geopark” label was created in June 2003, and attributed to the European network, which was established in April 2001 and has been working in partnership with UNESCO.
*In China: Mount Lushan, Wudalianchi, Mount Songshan, Mount Yuntaishan, Mount Danxiashan, Shilin (Stone Forest), Zhangjiajie, Mount Huangshan.
In Europe: Geological Reserve of Haute Provence (France), Petrified Forest of Lesvos (Greece), Vulkaneifel European Geopark (Germany), Maestrazgo Cultural Park (Spain), Psiloritis Natural Park (Greece), Rochechouart Chassenon Astrobleme (France), Nature Park Terra Vita European Geopark (Germany), Coper Coast (Ireland), Marble Arch Caves & Cuilcagh Mountain Park (Northern Ireland, UK), Madonie Natural Park (Italy), Rocca di Cerere Cultural Park (Italy), Kamptal Geopark (Austria), Nature Park Eisenwurzen (Austria), Cabo de Gata Natural Park (Spain), European Geopark Bergstrasse-Odenwald (Germany), North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (UK), Abberley and Malvern Hills (UK).