Global Network of National Geoparks

Lesvos petrified forest – European geopark: An analysis of visitors' preferences and characteristics

Published :May 4, 2008

N. Zouros1, T. Iosifides1, Valiakos2, M. Moliou2, K. Mpentana2 & O. Labakl2
Geography Department, University of the Aegean, Greece
2Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest GR-81112, Greece

Keywords: Geopark visitors' analysis, geological heritage, geopark management

Abstract: The Lesvos Petrified Forest-European Geopark (LPF-EG), comprises a core zone (15,000 hectares of the petrified forest protected area ion the western part of Lesvos island) and a broad buffer zone (more than 20,000 hectares of the central Lesvos volcanic terrains) and is acting with guidelines the protection and promotion of the Lesvos isl. Geological heritage and the development of geo-tourism.
This paper aims at the presentation of basic research findings on the preferences and characteristics of visitors of the LPF-EG during the last 5 years which has been a key factor for the development of the Geopark's infrastructures, facilities and services. Research is based on vast number of visitors' responses with the use of a structured questionnaire.

Statistical analysis shows the basic characteristics of visitors and their preferences as regards the LPF-EG, which guide in a great extent the managerial decisions and practices of the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest, the management structure of the LPF-FG in fields us presentation and evaluation of Lesvos geosites, geotouristic infrastructures, guided tours, information material, educational activities, local products and facilities.

The results of the operation of the Lesvos Petrified Forest-European Geopark show that geoparks can become the appropriate tool to heighten public awareness of the values of geo-heritage. The successful operation of such structures will ensure the protection and promotion of the geological and geomorphologic sites and has the potential to add significantly to local development.