The efforts of the municipalities, companies, associations and residents of the area, Metsähallitus and the Natural Resources Institute Finland, as well as numerous other operators in the region, were rewarded on 7 July 2020, when the UNESCO Executive Board unanimously approved Lauhanvuori - Hämeenkangas Geopark as part of the UNESCO Global Geoparks network.
In the meeting, the number of Geoparks in the UNESCO Global Geoparks network increased to 161. Fifteen other magnificent Geoparks from around the world from Canada to Korea and from Russia to Vietnam were also accepted as members of the network. Until now, Finland has had one UNESCO Global Geopark at Rokua. In the next few years, UNESCO status will also be sought for the Geoparks in Saimaa, Salpausselkä and Kraatterijärvi.
Each of the UNESCO Geoparks is unique and special. What the Geoparks have in common is the willingness of local people to uphold the region’s valuable geological, natural and cultural heritage. UNESCO’s aim is to increase the knowledge about the Geoparks among residents and tourists in the region. When we understand the value of the area, we also want to protect it. This way the valuable heritage will be preserved for future generations.
However, Geoparks are not large outdoor museums, but living and vibrant areas. In Geoparks, people live in harmony with the surrounding nature, respecting it and using it in a sustainable way. Sustainable nature tourism is a significant part of Geopark’s activities and an important source of income for the residents of the area.
Achieving UNESCO Global Geopark status has required the work of a large number of active and enthusiastic people over several years. Developing the Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark and applying for the UNESCO status has been a long process, which has created both cross-region team spirit and many material structures.
However, the Geopark is not ready yet – on the contrary! UNESCO ensures the high quality of Geoparks by further evaluating their operation and development every four years, so work in the Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark will continue. Come to the Geopark, experience its uniqueness, make it your own and take part in its activities! We all make the Geopark.