Essential Questions: your Answers

1. Naming Your Geopark
1.1 What is the name of your proposed / newly designated Geopark?
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1.2 Does the name have any particular significance?
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For example, is it named after a geological feature or fossil locality etc? Does it reflect a topographic or distinct geographical area such as an upland area or an island?

2. Why?
2.1 Why are you interested in becoming a Geopark?
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You need to consider the fundamental reasons why you would like to achieve Geopark status. For example, does your territory face economic challenges which you think Geopark status could help address through the stimulation of sustainable economic development?

Does your territory have important geological stories that are worthy of highlighting?
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3. What?
3.1 What is special about the territory which you are considering for Geopark status?
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UNESCO’s operational guidelines require that “a UNESCO Global Geopark must contain geology of international significance”.

For example, do you have a unique geology or geological feature worthy of the Geopark designation? These could include a stratigraphic sequence, a particularly important feature such as a fossil layer, or unique rock type, or feature such as an asteroid crater.

3.2 What unique geological story can your territory tell?
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For example, can your territory show how the palaeo-environment has changed over geological time?

Do you have any unique social or cultural stories associated with your geology? These could include important minerals which have been mined and exported from your territory in the past.

Does your territory form part of the story of the global development of geoscience? The role of territories and individual geologists over the last 250 years could be an important story in the heritage of your Geopark.


The geology of your territory must be significantly different from that of any existing Geopark. The Geopark must “contain geological heritage of international significance as independently verified by scientific professionals.” (UGG criterion i)

4. Who?
4.1 WHO is leading the application; WHICH ORGANISATION?
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Typically, there is a “lead organisation” which submits the application to UNESCO.

For example, is it the management body of an existing designated area such as a national park, administrative organisations such as a local authority or regional government body?

Are you creating a completely new organisation to lead the Geopark and to make the submission to UNESCO?

See also How? and Governance

4.2 WhO IS involved; WHICH orGANISATIONS can collaborate to develop your Geopark? 
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A successful Geopark will include a wide range of national, regional and local partners. Organisations can be from different sectors e.g. public, private, charitable and voluntary, all representing the range of ‘stakeholders’ with an interest in developing the territory as a Geopark.

You may wish to obtain letters of commitment from the various organisations actively involved in the running of your Geopark as part of the submission documentation.  These differ from “Letters of Support” where organisations support the principle of the Geopark but are not involved in the submission or the longer-term day-to-day management.

Examples of active partners:

  • Management body of an existing designated landscape
  • Local / regional / state government
  • National or regional geological surveys
  • National / regional environmental public bodies
  • Local tourism support bodies
  • Individual businesses with geotourism potential
  • Geoconservation organisations
  • Environmental volunteers


UNESCO recommends that “all relevant local and regional actors and authorities be presented in the management of a UNESCO Global Geopark”. (UGG criterion v)

5. Where?
5.1 WHERE WILL you draw the boundaries of your Geopark?
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It is recommended you describe the natural and geological terrain your territory includes. The boundary should contain all of the territory which you wish to promote.

It may conform to the boundary of an existing designated area (such as a national park) or a local government administrative unit (such as a county) or it may be a discrete geographical feature such as an island. Alternatively, it may be developed simply along the boundaries of a geologically distinct area, cutting across existing administrative boundaries. (UGG criterion i) If this is the case, it is important to have the support of the various administrative bodies and the territory should make “geological sense”, allowing interpretation of the features in your Geopark and so offering the necessary opportunities to encourage sustainable economic development.

5.2 Would it be a transnational Geopark?
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Are you proposing to establish a Geopark which covers territory in more than one country? Geology does not respect national borders and it may be advantageous to define an area with a distinct geological identity which straddles a national border. The designation can be used to further the sustainable development of the territory in both countries and can help strengthen bonds between the two countries. 

Does the lead organisation have a remit to operate across national boundaries?


Different countries may have different national requirements with regards taxes, employment law, environmental regulation etc.

5.3 Would it contain or overlap with an existing UNESCO designated site?
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If the proposed Geopark includes within its boundaries all or part of an existing World Heritage Site or Biosphere Reserve then you need to consider carefully whether Geopark status is the right choice.

UNESCO requires (UGG criterion iv) that any such application justifies and provides evidence “for how the status will add value by being both independently branded and in synergy with the other designations”. It may be more appropriate for example to expand the existing designation.

5.4 Is your proposed Geopark coastal or oceanic?
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Coastal and marine Geoparks raise additional considerations.

Would the boundary of your proposed Geopark stop at the high or low water mark?

Might it, in the case of an archipelago for example, cover large areas of open water?

The presence of geological interest on the seafloor or of wildlife interest within and on the sea surface may influence your approach.

5.5 Is your Geopark in an area currently under-represented in the network?
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The IGGP is committed to promote balanced geographical representation for UNESCO Global Geoparks. (UGG operational guideline 2.4) Relatively large numbers of Geoparks have been established in Europe and parts of the Asia-Pacific region, as reflected in the regional networks established in those regions. Further development in Africa and the Americas is encouraged.

6. How?
6.1 How large is your Geopark territory?
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There is no “correct” size for a UNESCO Geopark. Some urban Geoparks are small, whilst Geoparks which include areas of the marine environment can be large, exceeding 10,000km2.

Typically, most Geoparks are within the size range 500 – 1,250km2, which reflects a reasonable size of territory which can be effectively managed by the Geopark management organisation.

6.2 How has the management body been legally established?
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If your lead organisation is an established body, such as the local or regional government administration, it will already have a legal existence.

If you are creating a new organisation to lead the Geopark, it may, for example, have to be constituted formally, registered (such as a trading or limited company) and have responsible directors.


The proposed Geopark should be managed by a body which has “legal existence recognized under national legislation”. (UGG criterion iii).

To further consider this last question, you may first wish to read about different types of Geopark Governance structures…..