P. Edén & O. Breilin
Geological Survey of Finland. P.O.Box 97, FIN-67101 Kokkola, Finland
Keywords: Geopark, tourism, networking, Western Finland
The potential of geotourism has only recently been realized in Finland. During the last few years the Geological Survey of Finland and other actors have run development projects in western Finland to increase common knowledge of geology, to organize education for sustainable development, and to improve local economies through geotourism.
Regional geological exhibitions and site exhibitions have been planned, and three of them will open 2006-2007. Also, trails, boards and a guide map have been prepared, and plans for further actions have been made. A working group was established to develop Geopark Ostrobothnia, and to seek membership in the European Geoparks Network and the UNESCO Network of Geoparks later on.
Two National Parks are located in the planned Geopark, including internationally significant peat lands and eskers, and the highest hill in W Finland. The Geopark will also include the Kvarken Archipelago, which recently was included in the World Heritage List. Swarms of De Geer-and other moraine formations, rapid land uplift (80cm/100 year, 100 hectares of new land every year) and ever-changing landscape and nature are significant features.
The well-preserved impact crater at Söderfjarden and the preglacial Wolf Cave are also included. The Cave is the oldest known dwelling site in the Nordic countries, and the only place in the world where signs of human lift (Neanderthals) is preserved in an area that has been covered by a continental ice sheet.
Geopark Ostrobothnia will be very large, which causes problems in finding a common theme and because of different languages and cultures within the area. The latter can, however, also become strength.