what is a geopark?
UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.
A UNESCO Global Geopark uses its geological heritage, in connection with all other aspects of the area’s natural and cultural heritage, to enhance awareness and understanding of key issues facing society, such as using our earth’s resources sustainably, mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing natural disasters-related risks. By raising awareness of the importance of the area’s geological heritage in history and society today, UNESCO Global Geoparks give local people a sense of pride in their region and strengthen their identification with the area. The creation of innovative local enterprises, new jobs and high quality training courses is stimulated as new sources of revenue are generated through geotourism, while the geological resources of the area are protected.
A bottom-up approach
UNESCO Global Geoparks empower local communities and give them the opportunity to develop cohesive partnerships with the common goal of promoting the area’s significant geological processes, features, periods of time, historical themes linked to geology, or outstanding geological beauty. UNESCO Global Geoparks are established through a bottom-up process involving all relevant local and regional stakeholders and authorities in the area (e.g. land owners, community groups, tourism providers, indigenous people, and local organizations). This process requires firm commitment by the local communities, a strong local multiple partnership with long-term public and political support, and the development of a comprehensive strategy that will meet all of the communities’ goals while showcasing and protecting the area’s geological heritage.
UNESCO Global Geoparks around the world
As of May 2023, there are 195 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 48 countries. You can have a look at the Geopark Map to find out where there are located in the world.
What is a UNESCO Global Geopark?
What benefits does the Geopark bring?
The Geopark is a way to protect this geo-diversity and create a visitor experience that tells the story of our geology, heritage and culture. The Geopark is for everyone and will benefit the whole district - it is a unifying platform that links and celebrates the identity, history, culture and geological and natural diversity of the area. It educates locals and visitors alike about our home and points them to a whole range of interesting cultural and heritage experiences. Geoparks bring a wide range of social benefits – such as increasing our sense of identity and getting all sorts of people to collaborate with each other, while providing educational benefits for our children.
It also aims to be a platform upon which people can build sustainable businesses and grow the economy for everybody. Becoming a UNESCO Global Geopark is an investment in the future of wealth and work in the district, it is income-generating and will attract bigger investors into the district. By encouraging and generating economic activities, a geopark improves locals’ quality of life without compromising environmental conservation.