"The rocks of TERRA.vita tell magnificent stories"
Celebrating Earth Heritage
TERRA.vita UNESCO Global Geopark is located in northwestern Germany in the transitional zone between the northern lowlands and the northwestern hill country, approximately 100 kilometers from the North Sea coast and some 35 kilometers east of the Dutch border.
The Geology of TERRA.vita is characterized by an exceptionally complete record of the past 300 Million years of earth history. Rocks of all geological periods ranging from the Upper Carboniferous age (ca. 300 million years old) up to Holocene (10,000 years old) are accessible in many places. Various types of sedimentary rocks represent the changes of environment that the area experienced during that span of time. In the village Bad Essen-Barkhausen in the eastern part of the Geopark, dinosaur footprints can be found.
By the end of the Cretaceous period, an anticline formed in the southern part of the UNESCO Global Geopark and the old layers were lifted up. Now exposed to weathering, the material was revealed and the relief formed following the resistance of the rock. Finally ice age glaciers gave the territory the shape that we see today, including a huge end-moraine structure in the northern part. During several ice extensions, older subsoil material, mainly clay sediments of Tertiary age, was dragged to hills while sand and gravel also accumulated.
Beside this unusual record of events, some extraordinary sites are of international significance. For example, the Piesberg Mountain is well known as a source for carboniferous fossils of outstanding scientific value.
Sustaining local Communities
With its size of 1560 km², the UNESCO Global Geopark is a cross-border park: ¾ of its territory is located in Lower Saxony, in the district and the town of Osnabrück. The other parts of the territory are located in North Rhine Westphalia in the districts of Minden-Lübbecke, Herford, Gütersloh and the town of Bielefeld. TERRA.vita is at the same time a UNESCO Global Geopark and a Nature park with similar boundaries.
Today, many of the geological monuments are preserved and made accessible to the public; guided tours, educational trails, exhibitions and interpretive signs guide visitors through a fascinating record of earth history. TERRA.vita offers a wide range of educational tools ranging from educational programs for schools to guided fieldtrips on various issues for families. New offers are developed alongside new projects wherever possible. The latest example is a guided fairy tale walk for children into a limestone mine and quarry, leading to the traces of Triassic life in the UNESCO Global Geopark.
Local enterprises are supported regularly by assignments and co-operations, partner organizations offering activities that are closely related to the UNESCO Global Geoparks’ goals are promoted in programs and catalogues. New UNESCO Global Geopark projects are actively promoted by the local Tourism boards.