What is a geopark?

A geopark is an area with a significant geological heritage and a strategy for sustainable economic development and promotion of that heritage for the benefit of the local community. Papuk Geopark is part of the European Geoparks Network and UNESCO Global Geoparks Network whose main goals are protection, education and sustainable development.

Protection

Geoparks protect different geological features and explore and promote new ways and methods of protection. The administrations of Geoparks provide various protection measures in collaboration with universities and scientific institutions and various governing bodies of local communities. Geoparks must comply with local laws and traditions.

Education

Geoparks organize various activities and provide logistical support for the transfer of various knowledge in the field of geoscience and environmental science to the public. They achieve this through protecting and promoting geo-monuments,  establishing museums, information centers, constructing trails, publicizing popular scientific articles and educational materials, organizing seminars as well as other means. Geoparks encourage scientific research, establish links with faculties and other research institutions, and foster dialogue between geoscientists and local communities.

Sustainable development

The main way to stimulate the economy and sustainable development of parks is geotourism. Through their activities geoparks attract a large number of visitors and enable various production and service activities that contribute to the socio-economic development of the community.

What makes a particular area a geopark?

A geopark must include several geologically or geomorphologically important sites of interest to the wider community. These sites can be significant in their scientific value, rarity and aesthetic or educational importance. Not only geologically interesting sites, but also various other ecological, archeological, historical and cultural sites contribute to Geoparks. Geoparks are supported by local communities who are actively involved in the activities of geoparks and they recognize and want to affirm their geological, historical and cultural heritage, primarily through the idea of ​​geotourism.  All geoparks must be active not only locally, but in the geoparks community as well, collaborate on joint projects and exchange ideas to improve the promotion of their activities.

 

The European Geopark Network was established in 2000 and its founders were four Geoparks from France (Reserve Géologique de Haute Provence), Germany (Vulkaneifel Geopark), Greece (Petrified Forest of Lesvos) and Spain (Maestrazgo Cultural Park). There are currently 58 geoparks from 21 European countries within the European Geoparks Network.

The goals of the organization are to promote geological heritage, protect geological diversity, and support the economic development of the territory of the geoparks and, above all, the development of tourism.

The network is mainly focused on promoting geoparks and their natural and cultural heritage, which is very important for the areas covered by geoparks. Local community involvement is crucial for the success of the network.

Examples of activities in geoparks include the construction of geological trails, education of school children, and promotion of geological heritage in a wider tourist area.

European Geoparks Week

It is held every year in all Geoparks and is a very important event for the entire Network. It has been held since 2006 the last week of May and the first week of June. The program includes various activities and is organized to promote the knowledge of Earth’s heritage in each of the geoparks.

The areas which become members of the EGN (European Geopark Network) are granted this status for four years, after which the activities and work of the Geopark are re-evaluated.

In agreement with UNESCO, EGN is responsible for adjusting membership of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network. EGN has made progress in achieving its goals and drawing attention from communities both in Europe and on the international stage.

All additional information can be checked at: www.europeangeoparks.org.

‘’Geoparks are not just about rocks – they are about people. It is crucial that they get involved – we want to see as many people as possible getting out and enjoying the geology of the area. Our aim is to maximize Geotourism for the benefit of the local economy and to help people to understand the evolution of their local landscape.”  (Chris Woodley-Stewart, Geopark Manager, North Pennines AONB, United Kingdom)

The first Geoparks Conference was held in Beijing, China in June 2004. In October 2004, the European Geoparks Network signed an agreement with the UNESCO`s Division of Earth Sciences to process applications across Europe to join the Global Geoparks Network. A treaty had already been established for Europe to serve as a mechanism for integrating national geoparks into the European Geoparks Network. New members who joined the European Geoparks Network would automatically join the Global Geoparks Network. The network supplies resources for active collaboration between geoparks around the world. Under the auspices of UNESCO and through the exchange of partners of the global network, important national geological sites enhance recognition and benefit worldwide, as well as the exchange of knowledge, experience and other opportunities from other geoparks. Within the Global Geoparks Network, geological heritage and legacy are at the disposal of humans and related to broader aspects of natural and cultural heritage. Currently, there are 100 geoparks in 29 countries within the Global Geoparks Network.

Papuk was proclaimed a protected area by the Croatian government in 1999 due to its exceptional geological, biological and cultural diversity, rarely seen in other Croatian areas. Since the proclamation of Papuk Nature Park, its administration has recognized the great value of its geological heritage and the idea of ​​joining the European Geoparks Network was born. The application documentation was produced by the joint efforts of Papuk Nature Park, Croatian Geological Institute and the University of Zagreb. Papuk Nature Park submitted its application for the admission to the European Geoparks Network in September 2006.

The delegation who subsequently visited Papuk gave a very favorable report. Consequently, in September 2007, at the seventh Annual Meeting of the European Geoparks Network hosted by Scottish Park North West Highlands, Papuk became the first Croatian Geopark and the 30th member of the European Geoparks Network, as well as a member of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network.

The new status of the geopark will raise awareness of the importance of geological protection and contribute to the promotion of local and regional products, crafts, events, festivals, local traditions and catering.

Papuk Geopark is an opportunity to show our visitors the places that tell the story of the planet Earth which is 600 million years old.