2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 2:15 PM


MC KEEVER, Patrick J., Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, Colby House, Stranmillis Court, Belfast, BT9 6BF, Ireland and ZOUROS, Nickolas, Lesvos Petrified Forest European Geopark, Sigri, Lesvos Island, GR 81112, Greece, patrick.mckeever@detini.gov.uk

Established in 2000, the European Geoparks Network (EGN) aims to promote geological heritage to the general public as well as to promote sustainable economic development primarily through the development of geological tourism. The network has drawn together territories from across Europe that share these aims and which are now working together in an active and dynamic way to achieve them. Originally consisting of four territories, the network has, as of March 2005, been expanded to include 23 territories across nine European nations.

The network operates primarily through the establishment of common projects through which territories can exchange ideas, experience and best practice thereby supporting each other to fulfill our common goals. Although geology is always the main area of promotion in geoparks, network members adopt a holistic approach to the promotion of our natural and cultural heritage. Furthermore all members consider full, local community involvement as essential to our success. Examples of activities in geoparks include establishing of geological walking routes (guided and non-guided), education tours, school outreach days and promotion of geological heritage to the wider tourism sector.

The network is funded by its members and through collective bids for European Union funding for common projects. The structure of the network is relatively simple and comprises an Advisory Committee and a Coordination Committee. Decisions concerning the network are only taken by the coordination committee. In 2001 the European Geoparks Network signed a formal agreement with the Division of Earth Sciences UNESCO whereby UNESCO gave the network its endorsement. A further agreement was signed with UNESCO in 2004 whereby the EGN was given responsibility for regulating membership of the UNESCO Global Network of Geoparks in Europe. Membership of the EGN is for a period of three years after which membership is reviewed and assessed. The first revalidation procedure occurred during 2004.

Although still less than 5 years old, the European Geoparks Network has made great advances in achieving its aims and is attracting increasing attention from communities across Europe as well as the wider geological community both at home in Europe but also from further afield.