From nature conservation to geotourism development: examining ambivalent attitudes towards UNESCO directives with the Global Geopark Network

Gonzalez-Tejada C., Du Y., Read M., Girault Y.(Novembre 2017) From nature conservation to geotourism development: examining ambivalent attitudes towards UNESCO directives with the Global Geopark Network.  International Journal of Geoheritage.


Abstract: We will begin by showing how Geoparks have not been created ex nihilo, but are rather the result of a trend towards the increased granting of heritage status to nature and natural features (the creation of National Parks in the US, the Man & Biosphere programme, the World Heritage Trust, etc.) combined with a desire to boost economic development in rural regions, primarily driven by the promotion of tourism. Their development has required Geoparks to conform to international standards, principally the creation of the European Geopark Network (EGN) in 2000, followed by the Global Geopark Network (GGN) in 2004, the Arouca Declaration (2011) and the creation UNESCO Global Geoparks (UGG) in 2015. The introduction of international governance has sparked an explosion in the granting of heritage status alongside Geopark creation in many countries, but has also led to the emergence of conflicts over this heritage attribution, as well as how geotourism and its aims are interpreted. The ambivalent reception within the Global Geoparks Network towards “top-down” directives from UNESCO strikes us as an interesting prism through which to examine how the presence of different stakeholders (managers, scientists) and their differing conceptions of geotourism reveal divergent views of heritage status and its interpretation within the territories concerned.


[1] This study forms part of a European research project (H2020-MSCA-RISE-Excellence Science) managed by Pr Yves Girault, wich examining the processes behind the attribution of natural and cultural heritage status via international labelling (Global Geopark network UNESCO), January 2015-December 2018. C. Gonzalez-Tejada thanks the COLCIENCIAS Doctorate Scholarship Program for support through “convocatoria doctorado exterior 646, 2014”.

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