« Causses du Quercy »’s identity has been largely shaped by its geology. Several initiatives have been conducting by Regional natural Park and its partners to protect and to offer an insight into our territory’s geological and cultural treasures. We are now applying to integrate the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network.
What is a Geopark?
A Geopark is a territory with a geological heritage of International significance and a sustainable development strategy. Their purpose is to explore, develop and celebrate the links between that geological heritage and all other aspects of the area's natural, cultural and intangible heritages.
Geoparks stands for :
- Knowledge, protection and management of geoheritages.
- Education, training and public awareness.
- Geotourism development.
- Cooperation with other Geopark.
Geoparcs network in figures :
At present, the Global Geoparks Network comprises 120 Geoparks of which 69 in Europe and 5 in France. The latter five are all located in Alpine region and Eastern part of the Massif Central. Three of them also have the "Regional natural park" status (Luberon Geopark, Massif des Bauges Geopark and Monts d’Ardèche Geopark).
Our project: "If stones could talk!"
In "Causses du Quercy", the possibility of an application to European Geopark Network was raised as early as 2006, because of the richness and the originality of the local geological heritage. Our main assets for this project are :
- The exceptional paleontological heritage linked to phosphorites caves – the "Phosphatières" – in the southern part of the territory.
- A very strong karst-related identity, with numerous caves, chasms, sinkholes, karstic limestone features…
- A long-term bond between man and stone (dry stone walls, local architecture, countless dolmens, painted caves…).
- Several major touristic sites (medieval village of St-Cirq-Lapopie, pilgrimage city Rocamadour, paint cave of "Pech-Merle", etc.).
To meet European Geopark Network’s requirements, the Regional natural park has been carrying out various initiatives:
- Support for the establishment of a National nature Reserve to protect the geological and paleontological heritage.
- Publishing specific books or booklets.
- Educational activities for inhabitants and thematic training sessions for local stakeholders.
- Installation of interpretative equipment on geosites.
- Programs for the restauration of built rural heritage.
The Park’s application for UNESCO Global Geopark Network was completed in November 2015. It was made possible with the financial support of the Midi-Pyrénées Region and the help of partners and local stakeholders. A field evaluation mission by Geoparks Network and UNESCO will be organised in the course of june 2016. We'll keep you posted !