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Andrew Alden

10 New Geoparks Make 100 Total

By October 24, 2013

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china geoparkThe Geoparks project has added 10 new parks to make a worldwide total of 100, in 29 different countries. As UNESCO describes it, "The Global Geoparks Network links geological heritage sites of international importance, rarity or beauty that serve to promote sustainable development for local communities." As I've described it, "A geopark is a center of sustainable development that has a geological core as well as the cultural setting to preserve and take careful advantage of it." These are not wilderness preserves or sanctuaries for endangered species, but distinctive landscapes worthy of becoming sustainable tourist destinations. I have been pushing these for years, ever since Geotimes magazine first featured them.

The new Geoparks include glacial features in the Netherlands, cave country in Slovenia and Uruguay, some of northern Italy's sacred peaks, the amazing Azores, the ancient mercury district of Idrija, volcanoes in Turkey, and more. China is especially active in this movement (with 29 Geoparks by my count), which is especially encouraging because Geoparks are not a sentimental thing, but hard-headed schemes to make geological landscapes valuable for their own sake. If only the United States would get on this bandwagon.
Yanqing Global Geopark, China — UNESCO image

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