“Where rocks turn into culture”
Celebrating Earth Heritage
The Sesia Val Grande UNESCO Global Geopark is located on the north-east of Piemonte Region, NW Italy, and encompasses areas of the Verbano Cusio Ossola (VCO), Biella, Novara and Vercelli Provinces. It includes the Val Grande National Park, two regional parks (Alta Valsesia and Monte Fenera), and the Special Nature Reserves of S. Monte of Varallo, Sanctuary of Ghiffa and Domodossola all three entitled as UNESCO World Heritage. The area is bordered to the west by Valle d'Aosta and the massif of Monte Rosa, to the north by the Ossola and Vigezzo valleys and the Swiss border, to the east and south by Lake Maggiore and the Po plain. This makes the Sesia-Val Grande UNESCO Global Geopark the highest and the steepest one in Europe. Within 60 km the territory ranges from the Gnifetti Peak at 4,554 m. asl to Lake Maggiore at the 190 m asl.
The territory can be considered as the world’s most accessible reference section of continental crust, consisting of a diverse association of rocks from the deep, middle and upper crust that provide an unprecedented model. These rocks were exposed at the surface of the earth by the collision between the continents of Africa and Europe, which has progressed over the past 100 million years, driving the Alpine orogeny. Along the Alps, the boundary between the two continents is the Insubric line. In the same area, the Supervolcano of the Sesia erupted approximately 280 million years ago forming a huge caldera, the remains of this and its magmatic plumbing system are clearly visible today. Extending from the Po Valley to the peaks of the Alps, the UNESCO Global Geopark offers the opportunity to observe the effects of climate change recorded by the Pleistocene geomorphology, by the recent retreat of glaciers, and patterns of human settlements dating from the Paleolithic.
Sustaining local Communities
90 municipalities make up the territory of the Sesia Val Grande UNESCO Global Geopark, which has a population of 169,581 inhabitants.
Educational activities are at the heart of the UNESO Global Geopark initiatives. Environmental education programs are organized for elementary and high school students which cover a broad range of activities such as mineral and rocks identification, alpine orogeny and plate tectonic and nature observation. School visits are organized all year round. Educational activities for local schools help raise the awareness of the local inhabitants as to the importance of the natural monuments and their conservation. The UNESCO Global Geopark serves as a management tool for sustainable regional development by consciously combining all the strengths of the territory regarding business, community, culture, the environment and politics. It links geology, landscape, culture and development and devotes special attention to typical food and wine, which represent a great potential for economic development and for raising UNESCO Global Geopark awareness.