1. WHAT IS A EUROPEAN GEOPARK?
A European Geopark is a territory with a geological heritage of European significance and a sustainable development strategy with a strong management structure, often supported by a European funding programme, to aid further development. Additional information can be found in the EUROPEAN GEOPARKS NETWORK CHARTER (www.europeangeoparks.org).
2. WHEN WAS THE NETWORK ESTABLISHED?
The EGN was established in June 2000 by four territories.
3. WHAT IS THE MAIN AIM OF THE NETWORK?
The main aim of the Network is to support its members to bring sustainable territorial development to the geopark by using that territory’s geological heritage, primarily through the development of geotourism. It is our aspiration that geotourism on a European-scale can be developed in this way. The Network is responsible for the assessment of its members’ operation and services in order to promote the “European Geoparks” label as a high quality brand in geotourism.
Geopark management bodies are responsible for the establishment of a management and action plan which should describe its members operation and activities and should refer to the following issues: Earth heritage sites identification and assessment, natural and cultural heritage elements validation, geosite protection and geoconservation, Earth heritage interpretation infrastructure and activities, geotourism infrastructure and activities, environmental education activities and tools, promotional activities, support of local business, monitoring progress, international relationships.
4. HOW CAN I BENEFIT FROM MEMBERSHIP OF THE EGN?
Members of the Network are entitled to use the registered “European Geopark” brand as a mark of quality. Members benefit from the use of common promotional tools (i.e. website, magazine etc…) and have a forum for finding new partners for international co-operation, exchange of experience and for seeking funding from EU programmes. It is important that all members participate as active members of the Network.
5. HOW IS THE WORK OF THE NETWORK FINANCED?
The activities of the Network are financed by the individual members (see item 25). Members also seek funding for new initiatives and activities through EU funding programmes (LEADER, INTERREG etc.)
6. WHAT ARE THE TYPICAL ACTIVITIES OF A EUROPEAN GEOPARK?
There are a variety of activities that can be considered typical of a Geopark. Most are either geotourism or educational-based, including schools programmes, guided walks and museum exhibitions. Geological heritage protection and promotional activities are also essential activities of a geopark. Socio-economic activities in geoparks are important for sustainable regional development. Geoparks adopt a holistic approach to their heritage and promote all aspects of their region’s natural and cultural heritage.
During co-ordination committee meetings members present a summary of their activities over the previous six month period (Geopark Progress Report).
Every March, EGN members submit an Annual Report which includes the main achievements of the previous year and is published through the EGN website.
7. WHAT KIND OF ORGANISATION IS THE EUROPEAN GEOPARKS NETWORK?
The European Geoparks Network is a voluntary, co-operative organisation. It has a clearly defined internal structure comprised of two co-ordinators, an advisory committee and a co-ordination committee. Decisions are only taken by the co-ordination committee.
8. IS THERE A SUBSCRIPTION FEE FOR NETWORK MEMBERS?
There is no subscription fee for Network members. Members however, incur costs by attending meetings and actively working within the Network.
9. HOW CAN I APPLY TO BECOME A MEMBER?
Ask for details on how to become a member and how to put together an application dossier by contacting the co-ordination committee at:
Cellule de Co-ordination du Réseau des Geoparks Européens,
Réserve Géologique de Haute Provence,
BP 156, F-04005 Dignes-les-Bains Cedex , France
10. WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA FOR MEMBERSHIP?
The EGN Charter, available on the EGN website, refers to all criteria that are considered essential to being a European Geopark. A more detailed list of criteria can be found in the Evaluation Document (available on EGN website www.europeangeoparks.org) which is submitted for appraisal as part of the application process.
11. WHEN SHOULD AN APPLICATION DOSSIER BE SUBMITTED AND WHAT IS THE EVALUATION PROCEDURE?
A completed application dossier should be submitted, in any one year, to the EGN (Cellule de Co-ordination du Réseau des Geoparks Européens, see above address) during the period 1 October – 1 December ONLY.
The application dossier for membership in the European Geoparks Network must be concise and comprehensive, not exceeding 50 pages (including photos and maps) in English.
The dossier has to be accompanied by:
The official application letter (duly signed and stamped)
An appendix with letters supporting the application.
The self-evaluation document (Document A)
The official application letter (duly signed and stamped) and the complete application dossier should be compiled in English. The application letter should be submitted along with:
- 3 paper dossiers and 10 CD-Roms containing the complete electronic application dossier in pdf, in a file not exceeding 10 MB.
- a link on a web page where the complete electronic application dossier as well as additional annexes can be downloaded by members of the Network.
Nominations will be checked that all the information required is included and that the guidelines have been adhered to, and reviewed by January 31. Requests for further clarification, if necessary, will be issued to nominating territories by February 28 at the latest. Desktop evaluations of the application will take place and the EGN will seek a statement from the IUGS on the international value of the geological heritage of the applicant territory.
Nominations will be discussed at the spring meeting of the EGN (usually late March/early April each year) after which the applicant territory will be informed if the application has been rejected, deferred (pending further information and clarification) or whether an evaluation mission has been authorisied.
Evaluation missions will be carried out between May 1 – July 31 each year. It is the responsibility of the applicant territory to pay the travel, subsistence and accommodation expenses of two experts. Note that as the EGN is part of the Global Geoparks Network, one or more of the evaluators may come from outside Europe.
Evaluation reports will be circulated to Application Committee members by August 31.
Evaluation missions will be discussed and decisions made at the open autumn meeting of the EGN where applicant territories can be present (usually September each year).
Should any application be deferred at the autumn meeting, it can only be considered fully again at the subsequent autumn meeting one year later.
12. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO PREPARE AN APPLICATION DOSSIER?
This really depends on the physical size of your territory, your geological diversity, the availability of information and the number of projects you are operating in your territory. It is therefore difficult to define a time limit. It is likely to take a minimum of several months.
13. WHAT ARE THE COMMITTEES AND WHAT IS THEIR JOB?
The advisory committee facilitates the work of Network meetings, especially with regard to the integration of new members. The members of the advisory committee are representatives of the founder members of the EGN, representatives of several other members of the Network with more than four years experience of EGN membership plus a representative from UNESCO, IUCN and IUGS. The co-ordination committee is composed of two representatives from every geopark within the Network. This committee makes ALL decisions concerning the work of the Network.
14. IS A EUROPEAN GEOPARK A UNESCO GEOPARK?
There is no UNESCO Geopark designation at present, however the members of the European Geoparks Network are members of the Global Network of National Geoparks assisted by UNESCO (GGN).
15. WHAT IS THE ROLE OF UNESCO WITHIN THE NETWORK?
UNESCO participates fully in the work of the Network and has a right-of-veto concerning all decisions made by the Network.
16. HAS A EUROPEAN GEOPARK A MINIMUM OR MAXIMUM SIZE?
According to the Network’s charter, a geopark must have a sufficiently large surface area to support a sustainable development strategy. It must have a clearly defined boundary and it must be managed by a clearly defined management structure.
17. IS THE PERIOD OF MEMBERSHIP OF THE NETWORK LIMITED?
Membership of the European Geoparks Network is limited to a period of four years for all members. After that, membership is re-evaluated. A list of re-evaluation criteria is available, though it is crucial that geoparks participate as active members of the Network to ensure continuing membership. If, following the revalidation exercise it is found that the geopark under consideration is operating fully and strongly as a member of the EGN, it will be awarded a “green card” and its membership of the EGN will be renewed for a further four year period. If, however, some problem has been identified , the CC may decide to award that territory a “yellow card’ and its membership of the EGN will be renewed for a two year period. Following the two year period a further revalidation exercise will be carried out which can either result in a “green card” if everything is found to be satisfactory again, or a “red card” should the original problem remain unresolved. In the latter instance, the territory will loose its membership of the EGN.
18. ΙS COMPLIANCE WITH THE MEMBERSHIP CRITERIA EXAMINED?
Yes, each application is examined in detail by members of the advisory committee and discussed by the co-ordination committee which then takes the final decision.
19. IS THE NUMBER OF GEOPARKS WITHIN THE NETWORK LIMITED?
No, currently there is no limit. The important issue is the quality of the territories and their work.
20. IS THE NUMBER OF EUROPEAN GEOPARKS WITHIN ANY ONE COUNTRY LIMITED?
No, not at present, but national representation on the co-ordination committee might be limited in the future. However the voting rights of geoparks is limited to a maximum of 10 votes per country. Therefore, should the number of geoparks in any one country exceed 5 (two votes per geopark), the delegates from that country must agree amongst themselves how to use their 10 votes.
21. IS THERE ANY LEGAL STATUS ATTACHED TO THE EUROPEAN GEOPARK LABEL?
Yes, the EGN label is a registered trademark in every European country.
22. ARE THERE ANY STATUTORY RESTRICTIONS ATTACHED TO BEING A MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN GEOPARKS NETWORK?
No. The European Geopark designation has no legal status and does not imply any level of protection or restriction within a geopark’s territory. Such measures can only ensue from national legislation.
23. IS THE COLLECTING OF ORIGINAL GEOLOGICAL MATERIAL (E.G. ROCKS, MINERALS, FOSSILS) PERMITTED WITHIN A GEOPARK?
Yes, the collecting of original geological material is permitted within a geopark provided that is done in a sustainable manner or for scientific / educational purposes AND that it is carried out under scientific supervision and in accordance local legislation.
24. IS THE SELLING OF ORIGINAL GEOLOGICAL MATERIAL (E.G. ROCKS, MINERALS, FOSSILS) PERMITTED WITHIN A GEOPARK?
No, the selling or destruction of the geological value of a geopark or of material either from within the geopark or from anywhere else in the world by organisations that form part of the geopark structure and/or are permitted to use the European Geoparks brand is not permitted. Precise details concerning this aspect of the charter is available upon request, but typically it refers to fossils, polished rocks and mineral specimens of the type normally found in so-called “rock shops.” It does not refer to quarried or mined material for industrial or domestic use that is quarried or mined under national legislation.
25. WHAT ARE THE ANNUAL COSTS INVOLVED IN BEING A MEMBER OF THE NETWORK?
The cost of members travelling to and accommodation during the meetings of the co-ordination committee is borne by the individual members themselves. The committee meets twice each year and the participation by two representatives from each geopark at all meetings is obligatory.
The host territory of a meeting pays the subsistence costs for all official representatives. On one occasion each year a meeting of the co-ordination committee coincides with the open Annual Conference of the European Geoparks Network and provides all members with the opportunity to welcome new members and to discuss with and advise potential candidates.
Each member has also to cover an annual promotional fee (€1000) for the publication and distribution cost of the EGN magazine and other EGN promotional activities. Each member will receive 200 copies of the magazine.
Each member must also cover the cost of travelling and accommodation for the two experts selected by the EGN co-ordination committee who will carry out the revalidation mission of the territory every four years (or two years in the case of yellow card). Note that as the EGN is part of the Global Geoparks Network, one or more of the re-evaluators may come from outsideEurope.
26. DOES THE MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION COST ANYTHING?
No, however, as part of the application preparation any potential new member may wish to invite an advisor from the Network to their territory and the costs of such a visit should be borne by the inviting territory.
The nominating territory also has to cover the cost of travelling and accommodation for the two experts who are going to carry out the evaluation mission in the territory following a decision by the EGN co-ordination committee.
27. DOES THE GEOPARKS NETWORK PROVIDE TRAINING COURSES?
The EGN/GGN organizes annually an Intensive Course on Geoparks which focuses on geoconservation, geopark management and operation, geotourism development, educational activities and local development.
This Intensive course is also open to individuals from non-member organizations with a PhD or Masters degree in science.