Global Network of National Geoparks

Natural parks and geoparks in Switzerland

Published :April 1, 2008
E. Reynard
Swiss Academy of Sciences, Working Group for Geotopes in Switzerland and lnstitute of Geography, University of Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

Keywords: Geoparks, natural parks, geoconservation, Switzerland

Geoparks are relatively new in Switzerland. Two geoparks have been established respectively in 2001 and in 2003 and five geoparks are currently in project. In parallel, a modification of the Swiss Nature Protection Act was adopted by the Parliament in December 2005. The revision of the law aims at promoting the establishment of large protected areas throughout the country. Three categories of natural parks will be subsidized by the State: national parks, natural regional parks and natural periurban parks. More than 35 projects of new parks are currently in preparation associations and are resolutely oriented to the conservation of a good ecological status of the protected area.

The aim of this communication is to propose an overview of the various projects and to evaluate the position of the geological and geomorphological values within the projects. The first step consists in assessing the characteristics and the quality of the geological and geomorphological heritage of the different projects. In a second time, based on a questionnaire sent to the promoters, the place of geology and geomorphology in the project is assessed. Based on this first evaluation, the potential of the different projects for the creation of a geopark is discussed and propositions for the promotion of geology and geomorphology (establishment of geo-inventories, formation of park rangers to geology and geomorphology, educative products, etc.) within the future parks are made. The aim of this study is to promote a better incorporation of geological and geomorphological issues and values within the whole process of nature protection policy change developed by the Swiss State.