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

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM


ROBINSON, Stephen D., PARTIN, Camille and MEADE, Ben, Department of Geology, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617, srobinson@stlawu.edu

China, with a vast territory and long history, is proud of its unique geological treasures. China has recently received the designation of “World Geopark” for eight areas of outstanding geological importance and heritage with funding from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). According to the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), the designation has an immediate impact upon an area by improving living conditions and the rural environment, strengthening identification of the population with their area and triggering cultural renaissance. Geoparks stimulate, for example, the creation of innovative local enterprises, small business, cottage industries and new jobs, and generate new sources of revenue (e.g. geotourism and geoproducts).

China has also recently designated 85 areas as “National Geological Parks.” In contrast to the international influence with the World Geoparks, the National Geological Parks are designated at the national level and managed at the local level. The stated aims of National Geological Park designation are the promotion and protection of geological heritage coupled with public education, and the maintenance of culturally and environmentally sustainable development under pressure from significant tourism.

This presentation will focus upon our first-hand observations of the balance between natural geological heritage protection and education, and the pressures placed upon these popular areas by development and tourism. These observations were made in two World Geoparks (Stone Forest and Mount Lushan) and two National Geological Parks (Longhu Mountain Danxia and Three Gorges). We will also present our observations of differences and similarities between internationally- and nationally-designated parks in terms of environmental protection, education, and pressures related to development.