December 9, 2020 – After Papuk Nature Park and Vis Archipelago, Croatia will soon get another geopark under UNESCO protection. If everything goes according to plan, Geological Park Biokovo Imotski Lakes’ proclamation is expected in the next two years.
As Lokalni.hr reports, the National Commission for UNESCO Geoparks of the Republic of Croatia sent the UNESCO Council of World Geoparks based in Paris documentation for registration and accession of the Biokovo-Imotski Lakes Geopark area to the network of UNESCO World Geoparks.
A unique area of Dinaric karst
“This completes a significant chapter on our path to the ultimate goal of becoming a Geopark under UNESCO protection,” said Luka Kolovrat, director of the Imotski Tourist Board Imota.
The arrival of UNESCO evaluators is expected in the summer, and if everything goes according to plan, the Biokovo-Imotski Lakes Geopark’s proclamation will be in the next two years.
“The initiative was launched in 2018 when we reported the Imotski Lakes Geopark project to the National Commission, and at the same time, the Biokovo Nature Park had a similar initiative. The position of the Commission was to unite the initiatives and to approach this project together,” says Kolovrat.
There are many reasons for this. One of them is that the area of Imotski Krajina (Imotski region) with the Biokovo Nature Park is a geologically, geomorphologically, and unique landscape area of the Dinaric karst. Thus a joint application would use the potential of both areas for the benefit of the local community.
“At the end of 2018 and in 2019, the City of Imotski carried out a very complex and comprehensive geological research of the area of Imotski Krajina. It was the basis for future applications. The Geological Institute prepared the geological brochure of Imotski Krajina. At the same time, we conducted intensive negotiations with representatives of PP Biokovo on a joint application, defining names, headquarters, borders, coverage, management of Geopark, etc. At the end of 2019, the geological brochure was presented to the public, and the association Geopark Imotski Lakes was founded, which took over the management, operational affairs, and coordination from the Imotski Tourist Board,” Kolovrat states the chronology.
In May this year, they sent a letter of intent to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. In July, they presented the project, after which they received a letter of support from them.
A piece of the planet of inestimable wealth
The next step is the arrival of UNESCO evaluators in the summer, and until then, they have a lot of work to do.
“In the next period, we need to implement the activities from the management plan: mark about a hundred sites that we have identified as geological, natural, and cultural sites, mark geological trails, do training for agencies, renters, family farms who should become partners of Geopark, create a bilingual website, promotional video, print brochures and various promotional materials,” announces Kolovrat.
UNESCO Geoparks are unique geographical areas of international importance governed by a holistic concept of protection, education, and sustainable development.
“The UNESCO brand will lead to the recognition of our area at the global level. The creation of innovative crafts and new jobs encourages new sources of income as part of geotourism, strengthening the local community. At the same time, the geological, natural, and cultural heritage of the area remains protected. We believe that this piece of a planet of inestimable wealth on which we have the privilege to live, and we are its heirs, deserves to become part of the UNESCO family to the pride of us and the generations to come,” says Kolovrat.
Geological treasury of Croatia
Due to its geological diversity and numerous fossil finds of organisms from the Pannonian Sea, the Papuk Nature Park was the first Croatian Geopark under UNESCO protection. Papuk is also in a nature park category since 1999, and the first geological natural monument in the Republic of Croatia is located in the Park.
Last year, UNESCO added three European sites to its geological parks, including the Vis Archipelago. In the geological past 220 million years ago, a magmatic breach formed the present islands of Jabuka, Brusnik, Biševo, and Palagruža. Palagruža is also geologically the oldest island in the Adriatic, which, like the island of Brusnik, is continuously growing under the influence of tectonic activity.