Interested in earth science? Have a fascination with visiting unique sites which offer a glimpse into sometimes rarely seen effects of dynamic natural events? Enjoy an educational tour at a geopark!
When participating in an educational tour at a geopark, one is able to witness – even feel a part of – some of the world’s awe inspiring natural happenings.
What is a geopark?
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) define global geopark as ‘single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development’.
Geoparks exhibit the effects of natural hazards and occurrences such as volcanoes, earthquakes, water erosion, past and current climate changes and tsunami’s – just to name a few.
There are global geoparks, as listed with UNESCO, and national geoparks which are more managed by the Country and their sustainability initiatives, rather than the internationally recognised sustainably managed global geoparks.
Notable UNESCO global geoparks
The UNESCO website has all of their global geoparks listed and updated. For your convenience, we are listing here a few of the UNESCO geoparks in popular destination areas.
Ireland’s Copper Coast geopark is one example of glacier erosion consisting of volcanic rocks, sand, blow holes and copper.
Japan’s Oki Islands geopark, consists of volcanic islands which display a unique process of sea and landmass formation. Both the scenery and the local ecosystem are said to be amazing.
Mexico’s Mixteca Alta Oaxaca geopark consists of precambrian and paleozoic rocks.
For anyone interested in visiting a UNESCO geopark, the complete listing can be found by clicking here. As of October 2020, there are 161 Global geoparks in 44 countries in the UNESCO network.
How are geoparks sustainable?
Geoparks in and of themselves are managed in such a way as to ensure the sustained protection or even improvement of the conditions of the site and surrounding areas by sustainable tourism efforts. The geopark has a role in preserving these areas, as they are geologically important and precious areas on the earth. The monies generated by the tourism to these sites helps the local communities to earn a living wage via continued tourism efforts, thus encouraging the locals to contribute to the care and upkeep of the nature area as well through the generation of a vested personal interest in the area, ie; employment initiatives. As an educational tour, the geopark provides valuable information regarding the sustainable use of and for the need for natural resources. One is able to learn about the effects of natural occurrences on the environment by being fully immersed in the atmosphere in which one is able to clearly see the effects of certain circumstances on nature, all whilst witnessing the lasting effects of climate related happenings.
Why is it important to take an educational tour?
Learning about nature, in all its forms, is important for achieving a sustainable mindset with which one is able to better make informed decisions with regard to the conservation of the environment and preservation of nature. Taking an educational tour with regard to geoparks helps to educate travellers about natural hazards and the need for sustainable protection initiatives and practices in regard to the natural geopark areas as well as providing an opportunity to learn about the importance, history and effect of climate on the earth in the geopark areas. Being able to visually experience moments in earth’s history such as the layers of volcanic sediment, rocks that are millions of years in age, ridges which have been formed during earthquakes and the like, provide a valuable perspective for the traveller, who can then later reflect back on those learning experiences in order to better make informed decisions regarding sustainability and the environment.
Visiting these sites offers a real glimpse into the long-term effects of natural events, as well as some of the ways in which climate change has manifested itself during previous occurring cycles. Is visiting a geopark and taking an educational tour something that might interest you?
Would you like to know more about ecotourism and the unique things it offers?
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