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The Naturepark is located in northwestern Germany and stretches across the mountain ridges of “Teuto-burgerWald”, “Wiehengebirge”, and the “Ankum-Bippen-Hills”. What is so special about this landscape concerning the preservation of the geological heritage in Europe? It is the documentation of the earth’s history from the carboniferous age about 300 million years ago up to today, nearly without gaps, in a narrow area in this region. By means of an enormous variety of different sedimentary rocks, which are accessible in natural or artificial openings, this huge area can be investigated, reconstructed and explained to visitors in an accessible way.

One example for an impressive opening in carboniferous rock is the quarzite-quarry of the “Piesberg” north of Osnabruck, housing an industrial-historical museum with an accessible black coal adit of the 19th century. The dinosaur-footprints of Barkhausen in the “Wiehengebirge” left by altogether eleven dinosaurs of two different species, appear in the upper Jurassic age and are, in this constellation, unique in Europe. The footprint-quarry is the most important Geosite of the naturepark. The Rocks of Dorenthe are an outcrop of lower cretaceous sandstone. As they are a Geosite of natural origin, they are a touristical highlight in the western part of the naturepark. The “Sea of Rocks” on the “Gattberg”, including the so-called “Butter-Stone” (a huge erratic block), gives a sense of the enormous power of the glaciers that once moved through the naturepark area.

The “TERRA.park” is an exhibition and activity facility of two hectares, where visitors are given a geological overall view by the naturepark-team and where educational programs for schools are offered. Because of its geological importance, the Naturepark area is well explored and mapped. It is a popular excursion destination for scientists from all over Germany and the Netherlands. A current registration of geotopes completes the scientific list of existing geological objects. The main target of the Geopark activities are further protection measures for geotopes as well as enlarged public relation activities, allowing visitors as well as inhabitants a better understanding of the connections of earth history in different ways. The 1999 extension and development of the Geosite “Dinosaur Footprints” into an open air museum, was one important step in this direction. This measure was useful for the protection of the footprints and for the didactical translation of scientific facts at the same time. Activities of this kind willincreasingly influence the educational institutions of the region, making geological heritage a central topic of their work. Touristical offers like thematic bicycle-routes, action-tours for groups and thematic maps are being worked out by the naturepark administration itself at this time. In order to increase public access to geosciences, themes like the history of mining, archaeology, and the current work on mineral resources are being worked out again for integration in these touristical offers. As a result, first contacts with local enterprises have been initiated. Within the scope of support programmes, object-contracts and practical trainees, students and job-starters are integrated in the work on naturepark products. In 2004, a set of 17 cycling-routes called “TERRA.trails” was published. The information-pack provides a printed guide and map for each route, and focuses on the Geopark items, earth history, archaeology, coal and ore mining as well as architecture. Since 1998, cooperation with a region in the Netherlands has been going on, and a bilingual ice age trail was opened in 2003.

Natur- und Geopark TERRA.vita
Am Scholerberg 1
P.C. 49082
Tel: 0049 541 501 4217
Fax: 0049 541 501 4217
Hartmut Escher
Timo Kluttig

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