Geopark Networks

Geopark operates in networks domestically and internationally. We learn from others and share experiences.

European Geoparks Network (EGN) 

Geopark Network started in Europe as a joint project of four regions, and the European Geoparks Network was established in 2000. Now (2021) there are 88 Geoparks in different countries across Europe. All EGN Geoparks are members of Global Geoparks Network.

UNESCO Global Geoparks will nominate two representatives to the EGN Coordinating Committee as official representatives of the region. The EGN Coordination Committee meets twice a year to decide on common issues and to network. The EGN hosts the European Geopark Conference every two years, alternating with the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network.

Global Geoparks Network (GGN) 

The Global Geoparks Network was established in 2004. Now (2021) there are 169 Geoparks in 44 countries. All UNESCO Global Geoparks are part of the GGN Network. The official body of GGN is the Global Geoparks Association, which was established in 2014.

Geoparks pay UNESCO a membership fee to cover the management of the network and to activate Geopark activities in developing countries.

UNESCO Global Geoparks is part of the International Geoscience and Geoparks program launched by UNESCO in 2015. At the same time, UNESCO Global Geopark status was established and the sites included in the network became UNESCO Global Geoparks. Also part of the administration, e.g. decision-making on new members and evaluation sessions was transferred to UNESCO.

UNESCO Global Geopark designation

The UNESCO Global Geopark is the third and youngest site designation of UNESCO alongside World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves. There are 169 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 44 countries around the world, and their number is gradually growing.

There are three UNESCO Global Geoparks in Finland: Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark, Rokua Geopark, which has been a member of the Geopark Network for ten years, and Saimaa Geopark, designated in 2021. Salpausselkä Geopark submitted the application in November 2020 and is being designated during the spring 2022.

There is also a fifth Geopark area in Finland, Kraatterijärvi Geopark project which is preparing the status application.

Other Geoparks in Finland

Rokua UNESCO Global Geopark

Finland’s first UNESCO Global Geopark, Rokua, received Geopark status in 2010. The theme of the Geopark is the ice age. In Rokua you can find, among other things, Finland’s largest kettle hole, the Depth Well. Rokuanvaara is a huge ridge formation created by a glacial river flowing through Finland, which got its final shape on the shores of Lake Ancylus after the ice age, when the cold north wind shaped its surface.

Rokua Geopark is located in the municipalities of Muhos, Vaala and Utajärvi in Northern Ostrobothnia, about 40 kilometers southeast of Oulu.

Saimaa UNESCO Global Geopark

Saimaa Geopark tells the story of the lake’s development from the ancient sea to Finland’s largest lake. The bedrock of the area originated at the bottom of the ancient sea, where the accumulated layers of clay and sand formed into a huge corrugated mountain range during the formation of the Svecofennian mountain range. This is how the gneisses of the shores of Lake Saimaa were born.

The bedrock was complemented by the formation of a huge rapakivi granite. The shaping of the landscape due to heavy consumption more than a billion years ago resulted in a landscape into which the layers of soil created by the ice age dammed a huge lake – Lake Saimaa. Eventually, the discharge of water through Salpausselä in Imatra gave birth to Imatrankoski and Vuoksi. Saimaa has one of the largest inland archipelagos in the world, unique natural conditions and Saimaa is the only living area of ​​the endangered Saimaa ringed seal.

Saimaa Geopark is located in the provinces of South Karelia and South Savo, in the areas of Imatra, Juva, Lappeenranta, Mikkeli, Puumala, Ruokolahti, Savitaipale, Sulkava and Taipalsaari.

Salpausselkä Geopark 

The theme of the Salpausselkä Geopark is the Salpausselkä formation, which was born at the end of the ice age and is the most famous ice age terminal moraine in the world. The huge scale formation was formed during the cold Dryas phase of the last glacial period, when the retreat of the continental glacier stopped and a huge amount of soil accumulated in front of it. The soil carried by the numerous glacial rivers accumulated into ridges and deltas, shaped by the repeated small-scale reciprocating motion of the continental glacier, piling up the moraine.

The core area of the Salpausselkä Geopark is the curve in Salpausselkä near Lahti, in the area of which the most spectacular parts of the terminal moraine have been created.

Salapausselkä Geopark is located in the Päijät-Häme province in the Asikkala, Heinola, Hollola, Lahti, Padasjoki and Sysmä areas.

Salpausselkä will be designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2022.

Kraatterijärvi Geopark project

The theme of the Kraatterijärvi Geopark is the lake that has been created by an ancient meteorite collision. A giant meteorite that crashed into space 72 million years ago gave birth to a crater in Southern Ostrobothnia with a diameter of 25 kilometers. When it hit the ground, the meteorite caused enormous damage throughout southern Finland. The amount of energy in the collision melted the bedrock of the area and created new rocks, raised the rampart around the lake and irreversibly changed the landscape. Now in the depression caused by the ancient collision there is Europe’s largest crater lake.

Kraatterijärvi Geopark consists of the municipalities of Lappajärvi, Vimpeli, Alajärvi, Evijärvi, Soini and Ähtäri in the Lake District of Southern Ostrobothnia.

Kraatterijärvi is preparing the Geopark application.

Finnish Geopark Committee

The development of Geopark operations nationally is guided by the Finnish Geopark Committee, which was established in 2013 at the request of the Geoparks Network. Its role is to inform about Geopark activities and to report on national Geopark activities to the Geopark Networks (European Geopark Network and Global Geoparks Network). It acts as an expert and mediator between Finland’s Geopark areas and Finnish National Commission for UNESCO. It guides Geopark projects in the preparation of applications and gives their assessment to the Finnish National Commission for UNESCO, which decides on the processing of applications and makes proposals to the UNESCO Geopark Council.

The members of the Finnish Geopark Commission in 2021 are

  • Vesa Krökki, Rokua UNESCO Global Geopark (coordinator of the committee)
  • Jukka-Pekka Flander, Ministry of environment
  • Virpi Aittokoski, VisitFinland 
  • Matti Tapaninen, Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland
  • Päivi Tikka, Finnish National Commission for UNESCO
  • Jari Nenonen, Geological Survey of Finland
  • Terttu Hermansson Lauhanvuori-Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark 
  • Heli Rautanen, Saimaa UNESCO Global Geopark

Photos: Terttu Hermansson