The Idea

The creation of a European Geopark Network is an unusual idea!

Why bother? After all, Europe has many networks of cooperation but do such networks really work? Moreover, do they work on shared themes? Or does everybody have their own individual project and simply presents the results of that project to the others without the creation of an effective network?

We hope that the cooperation being developed within the European Geoparks Network is different.

The idea behind the creation of the network arose following a discussion between two unusual characters Guy Martini (from France) and Nicolas Zouros (from Greece) and occurred when both were far from home in Beijing (China). They met at the International Geological Congress in 1997, where a special section of the conference was about geological heritage.

As usual this mean a series of presentations of individual case studies documenting extraordinary geological phenomena and outcrops from different areas of the world and examples on how to protect them.

It is not unusual for geologists to travel such distances. However, to talk about geological heritage at that time was considered progressive as the idea of geological heritage was still in its infancy.Although some work had already begun, those already working in this field were frustrated that the bridge of understanding between geoscientists and the general public was proving a difficult one to cross. This led to the decision of these two active geologists to initiate work on establishing a network.

In particular Guy Martini took up the challenge to ask the European Community in Brussels for money to support a preliminary study aimed to finding partners who shared the ideal and to assist in the preparation of an application for further European funding. In this first challenge, he succeeded. Some work had already been carried out at a regional level, especially in France, for example at the Reserve Geologique de Haute Provence, which has been in existence since 1984.

Guy Martini started the effort to look across European for potential partners who shared his twin aims of geological heritage and enhancing the public understanding of earth science and with a third aim of using these to promote sustainable economic development on a regional level.

It soon turned out that four regions have been quietly following these very same aims alone: Haute Provence (France), Maestrazgo / Terruel (Spain), Lesvos Island (Greece) and Vulkaneifel (Germany).
These groups were largely unaware of each other first but welcomed the idea to exchange experiences and to co-operate. This was a good start but to bring the idea of a network to fruition it was essential that these four groups shared the same ideals. Thankfully they did.

As a result these four groups founded the European Geopark Network felt. At the time they felt like Galilei who said “… and definitely it moves”;even though they knew that it was only the first step on a long, hard road.

This was a good start but to bring the idea of a network to fruition it was essential that these four groups shared the same ideals. Thankfully they did. As a result these four groups founded the European Geopark Network felt. At the time they felt like Galilei who said “… and definitely it moves”;even though they knew that it was only the first step on a long, hard road.

“Like Galilei who said…and definitely it moves!”

The first aim behind their will to cooperate is being open to the exchange of ideas, to have confidence in cooperation, to tolerate the different identities but to work towards solutions to allow development.

The second aim is to use their different geological histories and different national mentalities to compare problems and work towards the sustainable development of our landscape resources for future generations.

The third aim is that, in order to develop these ideals, they needed others to join them in the European Geopark Network and help them build a European Community of Regions with a sustainable future.
* from the European Geoaprks Magazine No 1, p.4