Un géoparc mondial UNESCO est un espace territorial présentant un héritage géologique d’importance internationale. Cet héritage permet aux populations de prendre conscience et de trouver les clés pour répondre au contexte géodynamique de la planète sur laquelle nous vivons tous. Un grand nombre de géoparcs mondiaux UNESCO aident à prendre conscience des risques géologiques encourus tels que les risques volcaniques, séismes et tsunamis et dans ce cadre élaborent des stratégies d’atténuation de ces risques au sein des communautés locales.
The Global Geoparks Network (GGN) Statutes has given a similar definition to Global Geoparks:
A Global Geopark is an area recognised by UNESCO, open to the public, which is responsible for the protection and rational management of a unified territory with a single boundary that comprises a number of internationally important geological heritage sites on any scale, or a mosaic of geological entities of special scientific importance, rarity or beauty. These features are representative of a region’s geological history and the events and processes that formed it. (GGN, 2014)
However, the global definition of geopark may differ at regional level. Although GGN has been stating clearly since 2006 in their Guidelines that “a Geopark is not specifically a new category of protected area or landscape”, confusion could be created when reading the definition on the official website of Asia-Pacific Geoparks Network (APGN) founded in 2007:
A GEOPARK is a nationally protected area containing a number of geological heritage sites of particular importance, rarity or aesthetic appeal. These Earth heritage sites are part of an integrated concept of protection, education and sustainable development. (APGN, website accessed in May 2016)
As a major forerunner of GGN, the European Geoparks Network (EGN), on the other hand, offered a historical and territory-based conception of geopark. Besides geological heritage sites, support from European territorial development programme seems to be another essential element:
A European Geopark is a territory which includes a particular geological heritage and a sustainable territorial development strategy supported by a European programme to promote development. It must have clearly defined boundaries and sufficient surface area for true territorial economic development. A European Geopark must comprise a certain number of geological sites of particular importance in terms of their scientific quality, rarity, aesthetic appeal or educational value. The majority of sites present on the territory of a European Geopark must be part of the geological heritage, but their interest may also be archaeological, ecological, historical or cultural. (EGN Charter, 2000)
Geoparks could also be found at national level. In China, for instance, a national geoparks structure has been integrated into its national park system since 2000. According to the Notification to Nominate National Geoparks (2000), a National Geopark of China is defined as a science-based park with special scientific values, rare natural attributes, superb aesthetic values and a thematic geolandscape of a proper size and distribution range; with ecological, historical and cultural values integrating its natural and cultural landscapes.(Ministry of Land and Ressources, 2000)
Articles & Publication about the Global Geopark Network :
See and download, just below, the International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme (IGGP) approved, on 17 November 2015 during the UNESCO’s General Conference.