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History of development

       United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), authorized by the General Assembly of the United Nations, proposed a project “to form a global network to conserve sites of specially or uniquely geological and geographical value” in November, 1999. This project integrates the result of many national or international landscape conservation, such as “Geotope,” “Geosites,” and some so-called geological heritages. These sites are representative, unique, irreplaceable, and irreversible in character. They form a baseline for landscape conservation with a particular social value, where community participation and local sustainability are of concern. It is framed as geopark in the global community. Experts from different fields around the world hold different understandings of the term “Geopark.” Some refer to geo- as geology, others as geography and still others consider it Gaia, all of which are included in the four core values of geoparks.
        According to UNESCO, the main purpose of Geoparks is to reach environmental conservation, to enhance regional social economic development, as well as to integrate the natural and social environment in order to attain sustainability. By raising public awareness of the value of the Earth heritage and the knowledge of environmental carrying capacity, we get to make wiser use of natural resources and strike a balance between humankind and the environment. 

       By establishing geoparks, we not only hope to conserve the special landscape, and the geographical/geomorphological landscape, but also hope environmental education can be deeply rooted into our education system and make geo-tourism environmentally responsible. Through geo-tourism, local participation in landscape conservation will create a sense of place and will expedite local economic development. Based on this concept, every place can discover its own unique, representative and special geology and landscape sites. Combined with the National Comprehensive Development Plan and the County/City Comprehensive Developmental Plan, these geosites can be developed into geoparks or geo-clusters.

       There are now in total nine Geoparks in Taiwan, drawn up by the Conservation Division, Forestry Bureau, The Council of Agriculture, operated by local communities, and supported by the academic community. Through workshops, networking activities and discussions with local residents, we publicize the concept of geopark and geopark networking, hoping to sow seeds and create a force of landscape conservation within local communities so as to improve the social economy and to enhance local sustainability. Instead of being a park of geology or geography, a geopark represents the integration of regional scientific and cultural environments and social connotation based on certain geological and geographic landscapes. Their value lies in the sustainability of human society and environment.

       Four main core values of geoparks include landscape conservation, environmental education, geo-tourism and local participation, which are also the polestar and the motivation of establishing the Geoparks of Taiwan. 

      The establishment of the Taiwan Geopark Network occurred at the National Landscape Conservation Conference in 2011. The 2011 Taipei Declaration was signed for the promotion of geoparks. Nine geoparks were designated in May 2016. Communities in Taiwan’s nine national geoparks benefit from learning from each other via networking activities. Knowledge for geopark structural schemes and site management strategies are shared and should lead to a successful Taiwan Geoparks Network.
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