Global Network of National Geoparks

Geoparks – Chance and challenge for opening the earth sciences to the public

Published :April 17, 2008

A. Buddenbohm 
Wendfeld 16 B, 17237 Blumenholz, Germany

Keywords: Earth Sciences, public relations work, education

During the last decade Earth Sciences have become very popular for several reasons. Live-pictures of natural disasters, discussion on the climatic change and spectacular results of research are on the media around the clock all over the world. Geoparks benefit from this new interest and in certain respects they may be a result of it. On the other hand geoparks offer the unique chance to show the importance of Earth Sciences not only for everyday life but for safeguarding the future of mankind.

This was one reason why in 2002 Germany celebrated the "Year of Earth Sciences". Lots of actions were organized by universities, authorities, foundations, private firms and numerous volunteers. In Mecklenburg there were long traditions in geoscientifical public relations, too. They resulted in establishment of the Mecklenburg Ice Age Landscape European Geopark's responsible body, successfully organized about 25 events such as evening talks, exhibitions, guided tours, all-day field trips and school projects. The German "Year of Earth sciences" turned out to be an overwhelming success. It may be no wonder that the IUGS adopted the German logo for the international Year of Planet Earth we are going to celebrate soon.

Not only the latest floods in Germany clearly showed, that the lack of basic geo-knowledge or its disregard may result in human suffering and heavy material losses. For this reason earth scientists are called on to be more public and to spread their knowledge. What sounds like an uninspiring and serious subject in fact is an exciting possibility to provoke further activity and finally new behavior. Geoparks are in the first line to show how this works.