“The Araripe UNESCO Global Geopark holds one of the largest deposits of fossils from Lower Cretaceous in Brazil and in the world”
The Araripe UNESCO Global Geopark is located in the Araripe Basin, which is considered the largest sedimentary basin in the Brazilian Northeast inland extending into the South of Ceará State, Pernambuco´s northwest and Piaui´s east. The Araripe Plateau is its main distinction, in terms of relief. The geological heritage of the Geopark is characterized by important geological records from the Lower Cretaceous period between 90 and 150 million years ago, especially in its paleontological content. The preservation of this vast and rich heritage of fossils in the region was caused by unique conditions during the geological evolution of Araripe Basin, especially in the Cretaceous. The paleobiology reveals great diversity, including silicified trunks, impressions of ferns, conifers and flowering plants, foraminifera, mollusks, arthropods (ostracódios, spiders, scorpions and insects), fish (sharks, rays, bony fishes and many celacantinos), amphibians and reptiles (turtles, lizards, crocodilians and pterosaurs). Sedimentary deposits preserve a great diversity of rocks (limestones, claystones, sandstones, thick deposits of gypsum) that are a record of geological environments that existed in this region.
In Araripe UNESCO Global Geopark there are nine geosites. Each geosite characterizes a diferent period of this region’s geological time. Among Araripe UNESCO Global Geopark geosites, some have relevant scientific interest, such as the geosites Parque do Pterossauros, Pedra Cariri, and Floresta Petrificada do Cariri. Others are distinct for having, in addition to the geological interest, historical and cultural values, such as the geosites Colina do Horto, Ponte de Pedra, Cachoeira de Missão Velha and Pontal de Santa Cruz; and others for the high ecological interest, such as geosites Riacho do Meio and Batateiras.
In the past, indigenous peoples settled in this region of the Araripe UNESCO Global Geopark, followed by an extensive colonization and the appearance of the first villages and cities of the first Caririenses. The miscegenation of various peoples (indigenous, European and African) and the relative isolation of Cariri in relation to major Brazilian cities, created a distinct cultural identity with particular folkloric dances, songs, religious and artistic expressions. Therefore, the Cariri became known as a "cultural melting pot" that keeps alive the traditions of their ancestors.
The Araripe UNESCO Global Geopark itselfs covers six municipalities. All of them have structure to support tourism and educational use. Based on the historical and cultural identity of the people from Cariri, the Environmental Education and Interpretation Center of Araripe UNESCO Global Geopark was created in 2010. In this center, pedagogical activities are organized for public and private schools, higher education institutions and the community in general. The purpose is to propagate the concept of UNESCO Global Geoparks and the Environmental Education practices in an interactive way, providing an integrated understanding of the historical, cultural, socio-environmental, paleontological and landscape aspects of the geological sites. Also, Araripe UNESCO Global Geopark has attracted interest from several governmental institutions, NGOs, the productive sector and the private sector, formalizing partnerships and jointly developing work in order to, finally, stimulate the economic activity of the region’s tourism sector, with a sustainable development perspective.