GECCOSPARK, a KEP project funded by the CEI Fund at the EBRD and led by the University of Ferrara (Italy), promoting geological, ecological and cultural heritage through sustainable development and the creation of geoparks in North Macedonia, concluded its activities on 28 September.
UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education, and sustainable development. At present, there are 147 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 41 countries.
A geopark is an area with clearly defined boundaries that has a remarkable geological heritage combined with a strategy for sustainable development (i.e. economic development that is planned and implemented taking into account environmental protection and sustainability). The related places become tourist attractions and improve the local economy.
In this framework, the project aimed at helping the beneficiary (the Institute of Geology of the State University “Goce Delcev”) as well as local municipalities to promote the creation of geoparks in potential sites in the country. A number of activities were organised including capacity building sessions to present the characteristics of Italian parks, with a focus on their organisation and management. In addition, more technical activities were carried out on the study of the scientific characterisation of rocks, the results of which were illustrated in international scientific journals and conferences.
The project team worked closely with representatives of municipalities Demir Kapija, Negotoni, Gevgelija and Kavadarci to get Memorandum of support for the KEP project and forming of the Geopark Board.
It drafted a ten-year Master Plan related to a proposed Geopark in North Macedonia covering areas from Alshar in the west to Gevgelija in the east, and from Disan (Negotino) in the north to Kozuf mountain and the Greek border in the south, it set up a web page, a GIS database and gathered data for a UNESCO application (due in October 2021).
The online final discussion served to summarise all the activities developed within the project life cycle which was followed by a virtual tour showing the beauty of the selected sites, as well as the presentation of the website of the new geopark. The project represents a vivid example of a best practice of fruitful synergies among research institutions, national and local decision-makers, stakeholders, and end-users.
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