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Exploring New Pathways forGeopark Development in Australia 34th International Geological Congress Geoparks Symposium – 10th August, 2012 Angus M Robinson
Today’s Agenda What is Geopark? Land Management Systems in Australia Challenges for Geopark Development Opportunities for ‘Geoparks’/Geotourism A solution and potential scenarios Take Aways
What is a Geopark? A Global Geopark is a unified area with geological heritage of international significance and where that heritage is being used to promote the sustainable development of the local communities who live there. The Global Geopark brand is a voluntary, quality label and while it is not a legislative designation, the key heritage sites within a geopark should be protected under local, regional or national legislation as appropriate. These Earth heritage sites are part of an integrated concept of protection, education, and sustainable development. development
Core Elements of a GeoparkA GEOPARK achieves its goals of fostering localdevelopment through a three-pronged approach: GEOCONSERVATION: A GEOPARK seeks to conserve significant GEOCONSERVATIONgeological features, and explore and demonstrate methods forexcellence in conservation. EDUCATION: A GEOPARK organises activities and provides EDUCATIONlogistic support to communicate geoscientific knowledge andenvironmental concepts to the public. GEOTOURISM: A GEOPARK stimulates economic activity and GEOTOURISMsustainable development through geotourism.
Land Composition of a GeoparkA GEOPARK may comprise either solely or amix of protected public lands including WHAs,national parks and any other like areasdesignated by national governments, governments private lands,and located wholly within or acrossnational/state boundaries’
Land Management System in AustraliaPublic ‘Crown’ Lands Protected areas – WHAs, national parks, nature reserves, state conservation/recreation areas, wildlife refuges etc. Other public lands – state forests, crown lands, catchment areas, stock routes, council owned lands, public roads, railway easements etc. Australia is a diverse federation of state and territory managed ‘crown’ lands and land management is the art of managing fiercely competing priorities, and this situation is becoming increasingly complex.Private Lands Freehold with/without conservation covenants Leasehold, including pastoral Roads and easements Native title landsMining, Petroleum and Exploration Titles Exploration/prospecting licenses Mining/mining purpose leases
National Landscapes and Geoparks Have similar goals relating to local development, education and experiential tourism (‘geotourism’). However, National Landscapes do not focus on fostering geoconservation, but geoconservation have a broader ‘natural heritage’ remit. Nonetheless, the GSA has recently developed with Parks Australia a protocol providing for geoscience input. input
Intensifying Land Management and Access Issues - Australia Pollution control Soil erosion and management Water quality/resources/catchment Natural and built heritage and indigenous culture including geoheritage Noxious weeds and vermin Agricultural and pasture protection Flora and fauna protection Utilities and transportation access Mineral/gas resources and industrial minerals
Kanawinka and the EPHCIn November 2009, Australian GovernmentMinisters for the Environment and Heritagedecided that whilst Australian governmentssupport geological heritage, they havesignificant concerns with the application of theUNESCO Geoparks concept in Australia,especially without government endorsement.Furthermore they determined that existingmechanisms are considered sufficient to protectgeoheritage.
Land Status and Kanawinka Geopark The designated Kanawinka Geopark area embraces mostly lands which are not protected under national parks or other similar conservation schemes. Kanawinka Geopark partly embraces lands within the designated Great Ocean Road National Landscape. Landscape
Building Awareness and Support in the Geological Professions1. The Australian geological profession has shown very little interest in or support for geotourism.2. The mining and exploration industries as well as museums, universities, and government agencies are generally perceived by geologists as providing the only employment opportunities. opportunities3. Geoparks and geotourism are perceived by many geologists employed in industry as creating threats to employment through the alienation of land from exploration and mining.
Building Awareness and Support in the Geological Professions4. Geologists employed in the mining industry have not yet realised the potential for protecting the geoheritage related to economic geology.5. By and large, geotourism is now being championed mainly by geomorphologists, geographers and speleologists rather than by mainstream geologists.6. Even then, very few of these professionals understand the ‘drivers’ of tourism.
Mining Industry Land Access IssuesWhile Global Geopark status does not imply restrictionson any economic activity inside a geopark where thatactivity complies with local, regional or nationallegislation, mining interests are wary of: Restricted access to land for exploration and mining. Geoparks or any land designated a ‘park’ alienating land beyond the boundaries of national parks. Geoheritage measures restricting access to outcrops. outcrops In Tasmania, for example, mining interests want Tasmania access to existing protected lands and would vigorously oppose any more alienation.
Institutional Resistance to Geoparks State Geological Surveys are not supportive of the concept – exasperates land alienation. Staff in many national parks are more interested and trained in other areas of natural heritage. heritage Limited geoscience constituency in government land management agencies. Geoparks would mean a new and competing funding need – diverted from national parks. Designated geoparks adds to the complexity of government administration. Viewpoint that the National Landscape Program should be developed further as a preferred strategy.
Summary -Challenges for Geopark Development in Australia Other competing land classification systems underpinned by environmental, heritage and tourism values e.g. national landscapes, world heritage areas. The politics of Australian federalism. Relatively low profile of geoscience in the Australian community – overshadowed by the strong influence of the Australian mining industry lobby. Apathy amongst the Australian geological community.
Geology/Geomorphology focus inNational Parks & National Landscapes There is an opportunity to foster and promote geotourism initiatives within Australia’s National Landscapes with geological and geomorphological significance, as a model to advancing geotourism and geoheritage considerations in other regions, having particular regard to the recently stated views of the EPHC relating to the future of Geopark proposals in Australia. AESC 2010 Workshop
Geotourism – Establishing ‘Common Ground’ with the Parks MovementThere is an opportunity for geotourismadvocates to engage with state/territory parkmanagers to determine commonality on issuesrelating to: Connecting landscapes Forming partnerships with other land users Attracting visitors, particularly from overseas Development of regional communities Indigenous engagement Identification & conservation of geosites/geotrails
Suggested Solution for AustraliaAdvance the proposition that pilotgeoparks in Australia be developedlinked to existing protected areas. WHY?The vast majority of concerns aboutgeopark development wouldautomatically fall away. away
Scenario 1:Willandra LakesWorld HeritageArea and MungoNational ParkPleistocene Dune System &ancient lake highlighting50,000 years of continuoushuman habitation close to anew minerals sands miningarea2,400 square kilometresSize of Luxembourg
Scenario 2:Blue MountainsWorld Heritage Area –already a designatedNational LandscapeIconic Triassic sedimentarylandforms of the SydneyBasin – eight protected areas10,000 square km areaSize of Lebanon
Scenario 3: Warrambungles National ParkOutstanding MioceneShield Volcanoremnant landformsclose to a major coaldevelopment area236 square km area
Three Global Geopark ScenariosWhilst arguably the Blue Mountains WHAoffers the most compelling nomination as aglobal geopark given its significance as anexemplar of the Sydney Basin geology, from aregional development perspective, global perspectivegeopark nomination would deliver significantbenefits for the Country NSW region(Warrumbungles NP) and the NSW Outbackregion (Willandra Lakes WHA).
Take-Aways Need to propose a geopark model which meets Australia’s complex land management systems and is supported by governments and other land users. Need to build a constituency amongst Australia’s geoscience community. Need to advance geopark benefits in context of regional development, global branding, and increased visitation to natural areas. Advancing a ‘linked protected areas’ strategy for pilot geopark development maximises the chance of government support.
Contact Details Angus M RobinsonChair, GSA Geotourism Sub Committee email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org +61 418 488 340