The UNESCO Global Geopark label recognizes geological heritage of international importance. Member States unanimously ratified its creation in 2015. The sites of this network are characterized by extraordinary geological diversity, which underlies the biodiversity and cultural richness of many regions. Geoparks serve local communities by combining the preservation of their unique geological heritage with public awareness and sustainable development.
With these 8 new designations, the network now covers 370,662 km², which is comparable to the area of Japan.
Rieses UNESCO Global Geopark, Germany
© Dietmar Denger/Geopark Ries e. in.
Located primarily in Bavaria, the UNESCO Global Geopark in Rees extends slightly over Baden-Württemberg, the site of the Rees crater located in southern Germany between the Franconian and Swabian Juras.
Nearly 15 million years ago, a meteorite hit the Earth at this very spot, leaving behind a crater showing the impact site, which is by far the best preserved meteorite crater in Europe, whose impact structure is the most thoroughly studied of the 200 identified craters. All over the world.
This geopark offers a fascinating introduction to the history of the Earth through a unique natural landscape, cultural and culinary history.
Serido Global Geopark, Brazil
© Getson Luís, Serido UNESCO
The UNESCO Serido Global Geopark is located in a semi-arid region in the northeast of Brazil. It lists over 120,000 residents, including the quilombola community, which commemorates their African ancestors who were enslaved in order to preserve their culture through traditions, museums, and cultural centers.
This geopark contains one of the largest scheelite deposits in South America, a large number of tungsten and basalt flows formed as a result of volcanic activity in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras. This geodiversity largely determines the exceptional biodiversity of this region, represented in particular by Caatinga (“white forest” in the Tupi language), an ecoregion characterized by its specific subtropical flora.
Caatinga is the only 100% Brazilian biome, so much of its biological heritage does not exist anywhere else on the planet.
South Canyons Trails UNESCO Global Geopark, Brazil
© Priscila Ventura
Located in southern Brazil, the UNESCO Global Geopark Southern Canyons has a population of 74,120. It is characterized by the Atlantic Forest, considered one of the richest ecosystems on the planet in terms of biodiversity.
In the past, the pre-Columbian population of the region took refuge in paleonoras (underground tunnels dug by some extinct megafauna species such as the ground sloth), the remains of which can still be seen in the geopark.
In addition, the site includes the most spectacular canyons in South America.
Salpausselkä UNESCO Global Geopark, Finland
© Salpausselkä Geopark/Johannes Sipponen
Salpausselkä UNESCO Global Geopark is located in southern Finland, in the southernmost part of its Lake District. Almost 21% of the area of this geopark is covered by water, and forest covers more than half.
A hundred lakes and Salpausselkä moraines are the main attraction of this place. Stretching for more than 600 km in southern Finland, moraines are heaps of rocky debris deposited by glaciers.
These moraines are Finland’s best-known geological remnant, formed from the melting of glaciers that created the fluvioglacial topography, as well as rock formations capable of storing abundant groundwater, providing the region with excellent quality natural drinking water.
UNESCO Global Geopark in Kefalonia Ithaca, Greece
Located in the east of Greece, the UNESCO Global Geopark Kefalonia-Ithaca is an archipelago belonging to the Heptane Islands (the name comes from the number “seven” in Greek, referring to the Ionian Islands).
This geopark is full of geosites of karst origin, such as caves, sinkholes and underground waterways scattered throughout the islands, they tell a geological history dating back over 250 million years. Both islands are adjacent to the arcuate mountain range resulting from the subduction of the African Plate under Eurasia.
This geopark also has literary significance, since Kefalos and Ithaca are designated inOdyssey as the birthplace of Odysseus, the hero of the Homeric epic poem. It is also home to prehistoric, Hellenistic and Roman monuments, medieval castles, Byzantine and post-Byzantine monasteries, traditional huts, windmills, bridges and lighthouses, a rich cultural heritage scattered throughout the region.
UNESCO Global Geopark Mellerdall, Luxembourg
© NGPM, Uli Filitz
The Mellerdall UNESCO Global Geopark, located in the east of Luxembourg, is a rural area and is located in the heart of the “Treve-Luxembourg basin”, which stretches from the Paris Basin to the Massif Rhine.
There is Luxembourgish sandstone, which can be up to 100 meters thick and dates back to the Lower Jurassic (205 to 180 million years BC). This is one of the most picturesque sandstone landscapes in Western Europe.
Buzău Country UNESCO Global Geopark, Romania
Situated in the Carpathian Elbow region of Romania, the hilly and mountainous territory of Buzau Country, the UNESCO Global Geopark is one of the most geodynamically active areas in Europe.
Several tectonic plates collided in the area, forming a highly tortuous mountain range that was later eroded by glacial action. During this period, tectonic movements uplifted mountains and turned deep waters into an earthly environment. The Carpathians have well-preserved fossils of marine species, terrestrial vegetation, mammals and birds dating back to the last glaciation. Many fossils of beetles, spiders, crustaceans, reptiles and other species have been preserved in amber, a fossilized resin.
It is also home to some of the longest and deepest salt caves in the world, the remains of extensive deposits of salt and gypsum formed from the evaporation of shallow, enclosed water masses. This rich geodiversity has given rise to a unique cultural heritage containing local legends in which mud volcanoes turn into dragons, mud pots are cattle traps made by giants, and the future can be predicted through an amber lens.
Plateaubergens UNESCO Global Geopark, Sweden
© Henrik Theodorsson
In western Sweden, the Plateaubergens, a UNESCO Global Geopark, is a unique landscape made up of 15 flat-topped mountains known as plateaubergen in Swedish, who gave their name to the site.
These mountains were formed by erosion during the last ice age, 115,000 years ago. The region also extends over the Visigoth Plain with its shallow low-lying lakes, rolling ranges and well-preserved cultural landscapes. Some of Sweden’s most interesting historical discoveries have been made in this region, where museums house numerous remains testifying to the use of local stone by locals for thousands of years, from megalithic tombs to the first known stone church in Sweden, built by Christian Vikings in the early 11th century.