Global Geoparks Network
The entire island of Lesvos has joined the Global Geoparks Network of Unesco and the European Geoparks Network, extending the limits of the existing Petrified Forest Geopark throughout Lesvos. The decision for the integration of Lesvos Geopark was confirmed during the meeting of the Secretariat of UNESCO Geoparks, during the 11th European Geoparks Conference, which was held in Arouca of Portugal from 19 to 21 September 2012.
At present after the accession of the new members, the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network has 92 Geoparks in 28 countries worldwide.
According to the Program of Action, adopted by the General Conference during its 29th and 30th meetings (November 1997 and November 1999), UNESCO extended its activities in the Program “Geoparks” in order to promote the creation of a Global Network of selected areas around the world, integrating the conservation of exceptional samples of the Earth’s geological heritage in a regional economic development strategy.
On February 13, 2004 the Coordinating Bureau of UNESCO for the Global Geoparks Network was established, which operates in Beijing.
According to UNESCO, Geoparks are geographical areas with a prominent and special geological heritage. A Geopark includes a significant number of geotopes which are of a particular importance because of their quality, rarity, scientific and educational value and the aesthetic appeal they cause. The majority of the sites that are presented in a Geopark must be part of the geological heritage but they can also have archaeological, ecological, historical or cultural interest. A Geopark must have clearly defined boundaries and a sufficient surface so as to promote within its area economic activities likely to support a real local economic development.
An UNESCO Geopark has the following characteristics:
- It has a management plan, able to support the sustainable socio-economic development, more likely based on geotourism.
- It implements and promotes methods for the conservation and promotion of the geological heritage and provides opportunities for training in various sectors of earth sciences and wider environmental issues.
- It works in collaboration with government authorities, local communities and individuals.
- It is part of a global network which demonstrates and shares the best practices in the conservation of the heritage of the Earth, integrating it in sustainable development strategies.
- Geoparks are areas in which the geological heritage of the Earth is protected and managed in a sustainable way.
UNESCO considers that the success of civil protection and conservation of the geological-geomorphological heritage can only be achieved through strong local involvement. So the submission proposals for Geoparks must be submitted by local communities and local authorities, showing a strong commitment to developing and implementing a management plan that meets the economic needs of the local population while protecting at the same time the landscape in which they live. This initiative is a means for international recognition of important geological sites.
More: Unesco Global Geoparks (http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/earth-sciences/global-geoparks/)