A Geopark is a unified area with geological heritage of international significance. Geoparks use that heritage to promote awareness of key issues facing society in the context of the dynamic planet we all live on. Many Geoparks promote awareness of geological hazards, including volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis and many help prepare disaster mitigation strategies among local communities. Geoparks hold records of past climate change and are educators on current climate change as well as adopting a best practise approach to utilising renewable energy and employing the best standards of "green tourism".Tourism industry promotion in Geopark, as a geographically sustainable and applicable tourism model, aims to sustain, or even enhance, the geographical character of a place.
Geoparks also inform about the sustainable use and need for natural resources, whether they are mined, quarried or harnessed from the surrounding environment while at the same time promoting respect for the environment and the integrity of the landscape. Geoparks are not a legislative designation though the key heritage sites within a Geopark are often protected under local, regional or national legislation as appropriate. The multidisciplinary nature of the concept of geopark and tourism promotion in geoparks differentiates itself from other models of sustainable tourism. In fact, sustainable tourism promotion within geopark actually encompasses many of the subdivisions of sustainable tourism including: geo-tourism (geo-site tourism: as a basic factor), community-based tourism and integrated rural tourism (as a vital needs), ecotourism, cultural heritage tourism, etc.
The Global Geoparks Network is supported by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Many national Geoparks and other local Geoparks projects also exist which are not included in the Global Geoparks Network.
The Geoparks initiative was launched by UNESCO in response to the perceived need for an international initiative that recognizes sites representing an earth science interest. Global Geoparks Network aims at enhancing the value of such sites while at the same time creating employment and promoting regional economic development. The Global Geoparks Network works in synergy with UNESCO's World Heritage Centre and Man and the Biosphere (MAB) World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
The Global Geoparks Network (GGN) is a UNESCO activity established in 1998. According to UNESCO, for a Geopark to apply to be included in the GGN, it needs to:
- have a management plan designed to foster socio-economic development that is sustainable based on geotourism
- demonstrate methods for conserving and enhancing geological heritage and provide means for teaching geoscientific disciplines and broader environmental issues
- have joint proposals submitted by public authorities, local communities and private interests acting together, which demonstrate the best practices with respect to Earth heritage conservation and its integration into sustainable development strategies.
- Global Geoparks Network
- Asia Pacific Geoparks Network
- European Geoparks Network
- List of National Geoparks
- "What is a Global Geopark? | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". Unesco.org. Retrieved 2014-08-08.
- "About—UNESCO's role in geopark initiative". Geopark Iskar Panega website. Geopark Iskar Panega. 2007.
- 'April 2010 GEO4B/PM Advanced Level Examination - Advanced Information Booklet'
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