What is a GeoPark?
A geopark is a designated area that allows its visitors to experience geological history firsthand. The purpose of these parks is to convey how landscapes are formed, what types of raw materials and rocks are found underground and how geology affects the respective land use. In addition, these parks are intended to bring the local inhabitants closer to their geological heritage and to enable them to identify with their region.
In conjunction with the joint federal/states committee for soil research (BLA-GEO), the GeoUnion established its own panel of experts. The GeoUnion Alfred-Wegner Foundation awards the title National Geopark and evaluates the applicants based on its own catalog of criteria.
The European Geopark Network awards its own label, according to a catalog of criteria and an on-site visitation by international experts. The prerequisite is prior certification as a National Geopark.
Today, the national geopark initiatives are supported and coordinated by UNESCO through a global network, the Global Geopark Network. The parks benefit from their affiliation with a global network of cooperation and exchange. Under the aegis of Dr. Lutz Möller, the German UNESCO commission is heavily involved in this network.
In particular, these parks advocate the sustainable use of natural resources while at the same time preserving the respect for the environment and the integrity of the landscape.
Currently (as of September 2014) there exist 111 geoparks in 32 countries worldwide, with 15 located in Germany.
In this year, the Global Geopark Network was established in order to promote sustainable tourism.
Since 2002, the UNESCO offers countries support in such efforts. In the same year, due to the growing interest in geoparks, the BLA-GEO – a commission of the Conference of Economics Ministers – and the GeoUnion decided to introduce the national seal of quality “National Geopark” in Germany.
This year saw the establishment of the European Geopark Network, which links and supports its members across all of Europe. Six German parks are members of the European network.
A number of SENCKENBERG scientists are also involved in geoparks, including activities in the following parks:
This map shows all geoparks and geopark initiatives that have already been certified as a National Geopark or whose certification is currently pending.
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