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Wugongshan UNESCO Global Geopark, China
Photograph: Shutterstock

UNESCO just listed 18 new geoparks around the world

Each site is championed for its combination of conservation and local community involvement – and they’re pretty jaw-dropping

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly

Our glorious planet is dotted with absolutely stunning national parks, but certain protected green spaces are recognised specifically for their geological heritage and how it serves local communities. 

Enter the UNESCO Global Geopark designation. Founded in 2015, the programme recognises ‘single, unified geographical areas’ managed with a bottom-up approach that combines conservation, sustainable development and community involvement. 

And 18 new ones have just been added to the list, making the total 213 across 48 different countries.

What makes UNESCO’s newest geoparks so special? The Enshi Grand Canyon-Tenglongdong Cave park in China is home to a remarkable karst landscape of steep cliffs, deep gorges and caves, whereas Meteora Pyli in Greece features sandstone cliffs dotted by Byzantine-era monasteries. 

There’s also the Bükk Region in Hungary, where 300 million-year-old rock sequences have been altered by volcanic activity, and Impact Crater Lake in Finland, formed by a meteorite collision 78 million years ago, leaving behind the largest crater lake in Europe. 

António Abreu, director of the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences at UNESCO, told the BBC that ‘UNESCO Global Geoparks represent landscapes where internationally significant geological heritage intertwines with human history and supports rich biodiversity.’ 

Here are the 18 dazzling new entries. 

These are UNESCO’s 18 new geoparks 

  • Schelde Delta UNESCO Global Geopark, Belgium and the Netherlands
  • Uberaba UNESCO Global Geopark, Brazil
  • Enshi Grand Canyon-Tenglongdong Cave UNESCO Global Geopark, China
  • Linxia UNESCO Global Geopark, China
  • Longyan UNESCO Global Geopark, China
  • Mount Changbaishan UNESCO Global Geopark, China
  • Wugongshan UNESCO Global Geopark, China
Wugongshan UNESCO Global Geopark, China
Photograph: Shutterstock
  • Xingyi UNESCO Global Geopark, China
  • Biokovo-Imotski Lakes UNESCO Global Geopark, Croatia
Imotski Lakes, Croatia
Imotski Lakes, Croatia | Photograph: Shutterstock
  • The South Fyn Archipelago UNESCO Global Geopark, Denmark
  • Impact Crater Lake – Lappajärvi UNESCO Global Geopark, Finland
  • Armorique UNESCO Global Geopark, France
Parc d'Armorique
Parc d'Armorique | Photograph: Shutterstock
  • Normandie-Maine UNESCO Global Geopark, France
  • Meteora Pyli UNESCO Global Geopark, Greece
  • Bükk Region UNESCO Global Geopark, Hungary
  • Land of Extinct Volcanoes UNESCO Global Geopark, Poland
  • Oeste UNESCO Global Geopark, Portugal
  • Calatrava Volcanoes Ciudad Real UNESCO Global Geopark, Spain

To read about these magnificent Geoparks in more detail, you can do so on UNESCO’s website right here

More on UNESCO’s protective programmes

Why was Berlin techno given Unesco status? Will Venice soon be added to the endangered list? From the newest world heritage sites to the most beautifulwe bring you all the latest on the UN’s protective agency.

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