Presentation on theme: "Update on U.S. Involvement in the Global Geoparks Network Supported by UNESCO Wesley Hill International Liaison The Geological Society of America Boulder,"— Presentation transcript:
Update on U.S. Involvement in the Global Geoparks Network Supported by UNESCO Wesley Hill International Liaison The Geological Society of America Boulder, Colorado USA
What is a Geopark? A destination identity similar in concept to a National Heritage Area. Geoparks are defined by the geology of the landscape and transcend the boundaries of parks and other protected areas. A Geopark operates as a partnership of people and land managers working to promote Earth heritage through education and sustainable tourism. Nationally (or globally) important geologic area.
Benefits Opportunities to highlight geoscience research and information to local residents, policy makers, media representatives, and local schools Wider recognition and a higher profile of the site Public education spotlight on geoscience topics: volcanoes, earthquakes, tectonics, erosion, minerals, caves, paleontology, historical mining Promotion of the sites geological heritage and its role in the history of the local area
U.S. Interest in Geoparks: Recognize and promote important geology that may not qualify for UNESCO World Heritage List Educate the public about geologic heritage Link geology to natural ecosystems, and cultural and economic activities Promote economic development, particularly through sustainable tourism (geotourism) U.S. can benefit from cooperation with the international network of Geoparks
Questions Regarding Adding Geoparks: If the U.S. already participates in World Heritage, why do we need Geoparks? How much work will nominations require? What is the administrative burden (time/work)? Will there be public opposition concerning another UNESCO initiative/program?
Questions Regarding Adding Geoparks: How will sites benefit from Geopark designation in U.S. – additional benefits? How will this be funded? From whom? What is the difference between goals of Geoparks, World Heritage and MAB? What type of oversight/management control does UNESCO have over the site?
Geoparks & World Heritage Many sites with great geologic significance are larger than a single Park (WH Sites are usually single park or unit) The Park may manage only a small section of the geologically significant area as a whole Multiple organizations (BLM, Forest Service) often manage remaining significant geologic area
Geoparks & World Heritage World Heritage has strict protection standards that are a poor fit with multiple organization management (multiple use) The Geopark concept is a better fit with sites that have multiple organization partnerships and Geoparks accept economic uses, like mining With Geoparks, no requirement to show outstanding global value that the WH program requires (show national importance )
The National Park Service and The Geological Society of America (GSA) have drafted U.S. guidelines for Geopark applications. Canada has adapted the U.S. guidelines as the base for the Canada Geopark Guidelines. The U.S. and Canada are working together on national Geoparks initiatives and hope for a future North American Geoparks Network. UNESCO just awarded the 1 st Geopark in Canada. Stonehammer Geopark, New Brunswick First Geopark in North America
U.S. Next Steps Comment period on draft U.S. Geoparks guidelines Finalize U.S. Geoparks guidelines U.S. National Committee for Geoparks (USNC Geoparks) Question: Who to host this Committee? Secure funding for USNC Geoparks admin $20,000 / 2 year budget
Next Steps Geopark site applications accepted every 2 years Coordinate information among lands – Parks, BLM, National Forests, State Parks, etc. Coordinate information among partners – USNC-IUGS, USNC-UNESCO, USGS, etc. Finalize the U.S. approval process for Geopark applications & selection (draft process in US Geopark Guidelines)
Next Steps Clarify role of USNC IUGS/GS (IUGS is the global partner for Geoparks) & the USNC UNESCO Continue to network with Canada National Committee for Geoparks Launch U.S. Geoparks website with guidelines & application timeline
Next Steps The USNC Geoparks would be the official avenue between sites and UNESCO to administer the program in the U.S. USNC Geoparks would report to USNC UNESCO & USNC IUGS on U.S. related Geopark matters For U.S. participation in the Global Geoparks Network, a letter would need to be sent from U.S. Ambassador Killion to the UNESCO Natural Sciences Director.
And More Next Steps There is currently a site very interested in applying – Gold Belt Scenic Byway area in Colorado –Road to Riches : Paleo & Mining History –Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument –Royal Gorge –Site has already drafted a Letter of Intent to Apply