Gea Norvegica Geopark got a green card after its recent evaluation, and it continues to be Scandinavia’s only Geopark supported by UNESCO.
In 2006 the Gea Norvegica Geopark was recognized by the UNESCO-supported network of European Geoparks (European Geoparks Network). After three years of operation the Geopark was due to be evaluated, an inspection that is required in order to show that we operate according to the principles and agreements that we have committed ourselves to through our membership. The 28th-30th of August we had a visit from Germany and France, and we showed Jutta Weber and Guy Martini around the Geopark. There are bi-annual network meetings where all of the Geoparks meet to decide on the further status, and after last weekend’s meeting in Portugal, Gea Norvegica Geopark can continue its activities with an uncontested green card and high honour.
We want to thank everyone who has contributed to the development of the Geopark, and all who supported us under the inspection weekend.
In order to be a UNESCO European Geopark, a Geopark must have as its starting point a geology that is important at the European level. But, in addition, one must put that geology into a broader perspective - of biological diversity, human settlement and social development, of human use of the natural resources - and cooperate with the cultural life, trade and industry, contribute to the renewable use of natural resources, and be engaged in communication and geo-tourism. That is, a very broad concept, with very many possibilities. Many of the European Geoparks are connected to Nature Parks to begin with and can utilize an already-existing infrastructure. Gea Norvegica Geopark, through its 8 owner communities, covers a diverse area, with several cities, a long coastline, important agricultural areas and an extensive outdoor life, and it has started up specifically as a Geopark. We are subjected to inspection-routines through our membership in the European network of Geoparks. Inspections are carried out every 4th year (previously every 3rd year). There is a lot of work involved in carrying out an inspection. The process requires two self-evaluation reports and the content of these is reviewed by an inspection-visit. Then, the evaluation report is sent to the other members in the network. Here, the results are taken up at a network meeting, and one may be given a yellow card (contains points that have to be improved over the next two years) or a green card, if everything is running as it should be. A red card can be given if required measures and improvements are not fulfilled – then one is no longer a member of the network. Gea Norvegica was honoured with a green card on its very first round of evaluations, and we received very positive feedback.
The geology was not a point of discussion in this round of evaluation. We who live here, live in an area of geological interest that extends far beyond the boundaries of our country. Many of the geological points of interest are already made accessible, and more will be in the years to come. But, here are a few samples from the program for the inspection-visit, and a little about what the focus was. At the various localities we were met by people having connections to the Geopark and local communities / counties. The political support that was shown (both the County Clerk and Mayor of Telemark met the delegation in Skien, while we met the town advisors, mayors, vice-mayors and others from the administration at all the localities) was of unmeasurable help, and formed an important part of the visit and subsequent evaluation.
Gea Norvegica Geopark
Gea Norvegica Geopark is the first European Geopark in Scandinavia. It is located in southeastern Norway, in the counties of Vestfold and Telemark.
The Geopark is limited by the administrative areas of the muncipalities Kragerø, Bamble, Porsgrunn, Skien, Siljan, Nome, Lardal and Larvik