In the year 2000, four geologically interesting European regions – the island of Lesbos (Greece), Haute Provence (France), Maestrazgo (Spain) and the Vulkaneiffel (Germany) – joined forces to create the “European Geopark Network”. Their foremost goal was the preservation, protection and sustainable presentation of their unique geological heritage. Geoparks represent a link between preservation of a landscape and sustainable tourism use, thereby allowing the treasures of nature to emerge from the “sea of millions of years”.
This recipe for success has caught on around the world within just 20 years. Today, there are 169 Geoparks in 44 countries worldwide, consolidating their efforts as part of the “Global Geopark Network”. The Geoparks also drew the attention of UNESCO, the preeminent guardian of world natural and cultural heritage, which created a special UNESCO program specifically for them in 2015 – a group which includes the Austrian Geoparks in Styria, Carinthia and Salzburg. http://www.europeangeoparks.org/