Eleven sites added to global Geoparks Network

12 October 2010 | News story

UNESCO 5.10.10 - During the 9th European Geoparks Conference on the island of Lesvos (Greece) from 1 to 5 October, the Global Geoparks Network Bureau admitted 11 new members in nine countries. The Global Network of National Geoparks, created under the aegis of UNESCO in 2004, now comprises 77 Geoparks in 24 countries around the world.

The new members are:

Basque Coast, Gipuzkoa, Euskadi/País Vasco, Spain In northwest Spain close to the French/Spanish border, the Geopark highlights a unique relationship between geological, natural and cultural heritage. The coastal cliffs and spectacular abrasion platforms of the Cantabrian Coast are bordered by a mountainous landscape rising to heights of 1000 m. A long cultural history is represented by cave paintings and shamanistic artefacts and a magnificent Gothic church, Santa Maria la Real, in Deba.

Dong Van Karst Plateau, Ha Giang province, Vietnam Located in northernmost Vietnam, the Geopark’s karst limestone landscape and geological diversity are combined with a rich cultural heritage. The Geopark will bring real and sustainable development to a very remote and economically deprived area.

Jeju Island, Republic of Korea About 100 km south of the Korean Peninsula, the volcanic island has a vibrant economy based largely on tourism and several well preserved geosites of world importance.

Leye-Fengshan, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China Located in southwest China, the Geopark is characterized by numerous karst features: large subterranean rivers, karst windows, natural bridges, extensive cave systems, etc. The most representative landscape features are a number of large depressions, the Tiankengs, with nearly vertical walls and a depth and diameter typically more than 100 m each. The Geopark’s value for geo-science, geo-tourism and development is exceptional.

Ningde, Fujian, People's Republic of China The Geopark showcases rock and water interaction present in gigantic rock erosion shapes and impressive landscape phenomena.

Cilento and Vallo di Diano, Campania, Italy Set in the Apennine mountains, the Geopark offers rich geological diversity and outstanding sites of mountainous landscapes, cave formations and coastal features. The landscape, rich fertile soils and an impressive record of culture and tradition give this Geopark major geotouristic potential.

Rokua, Northern Ostrobthnia and Kainuu Regions, Finland The northernmost Geopark of the network, not far from the Arctic Circle, is a unique combination of northern hemisphere geology, nature and culture. Its characteristic features are the landforms shaped by the Ice Age: glacial ridges, pine and lichen-clad heaths, kettle holes and small ponds filled with crystal clear water. In addition, the area tells the story of prehistoric human settlement.

San'in Kaigan, Honshu, Japan Inside a National Park on Honshu Island, this Geopark is a successful example of integrating geological heritage and local development. Together its beautiful coastal features - sand dunes, beaches for sea bathing, hot spring resorts and marine resources - have created a tourist industry, which has become a pillar of the area’s economy.

Stonehammer, New Brunswick, Canada Located on Canada’s east coast, this Geopark is the birth place of geological research in Canada. Moreover, geology is fully integrated into residents’ daily life. Community participation and cooperation programmes with numerous leisure and tourism initiatives around geological heritage and landscape connect the local population with the economy and tourism sectors.

Tuscan Mining Park, Tuscany, Italy The Geopark coincides with the Colline Metallifere (Metalliferous Hills), most important mining district in central Italy. It embraces coastal to mountainous landscapes and occupies a strategic position between the main cultural and artistic cities of Tuscany and some important seaside tourist centres.

Vikos-Aoos, Ioannina, Greece The Geopark covers an area of unspoiled panoramic mountainous landscape including the most impressive gorges in northwestern Greece, Vikos and Aoos. The Geopark has high geological diversity and an exceptional variety of natural habitats, ranging from lowland to Alpine landscape. The Geopark’s management consortium is responsible for a sustainable tourist industry in which local communities are integrated.

The Global Network of National Geoparks was launched in 2004 with UNESCO’s support to encourage cooperation between experts and practitioners in geological heritage. To be selected as Geoparks, sites must contain geological heritage of exceptional scientific and educational importance, rarity or beauty. They must also possess an effective management structure, clearly defined boundaries and a sufficiently large area to permit significant sustainable economic development, primarily through tourism.

The Network includes sites as diverse as Lagkawi Island, featuring the oldest rock formations in Malaysia, the petrified forest on Lesvos Island (Greece) and the volcanic craters of Vulkaneifel in Germany.