Week of European Geoparks
European Geoparks Week in Slovakia 2023
On the occasion of the environmental event Week of European Geoparks in the atrium of the Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic, the Slovak Environment Agency and the Interdepartmental Commission of the Geoparks Network of the Slovak Republic installed an exhibition on geoparks and geotourism in Slovakia.
From 25 May to 8 June 2023, its aim was to increase the environmental awareness of the public about these areas of scientific importance, which are interesting not only from the point of view of geological (inanimate nature), but also biological (living nature) and also from the point of view of archaeological, mining, cultural-historical or ethnographic peculiarity and diversity (the cultural component of the landscape).
Geoparks are built in accordance with the sustainable development strategy, have potential for scientific research and serve for environmental promotion, including education. They provide an important aspect to local development leading to new economic and cultural activities in the region (nature-friendly and sustainable tourism, which represents an important area of the national economy), in parallel with efforts to protect and preserve the wealth of geodiversity and biodiversity of Slovakia.
Several activities were carried out in the Little Carpathians Geopark to mark this occasion. One of the classic ones was “Playful Geology” at the Budúcnosť Natural and Mining Open-Air Museum in Pezinok. Here, primary school pupils and the general public were introduced not only to the geology and geodiversity of the geopark, but also to the importance of minerals and the rock environment for living nature and people themselves.
Another event was in Dubová, focused on fossils and the geological history of this village. A lecture for pupils from the first level of primary school entitled “Dinosaurs and the Others” introduced the main groups of fossils, pointing out the importance of the fossil record and interpretating it. It was through dinosaurs that pupils were brought particularly close to this topic. The event also continued with the identification and conservation of fossils brought by the inhabitants of the village, which was complemented by the painting “The Sea Under Our Feet”.
In the area of Devínská Kobyla, a field trip took place on which participants, in addition to the classic “revealing” of the sea where it has not been for millions of years, could directly “touch geology”, fossil wealth and rock diversity. From the Modlivka viewing tower, the main tectonic units of Central Europe were later observed.
In the Zemplín Geopark, the exhibition premises and an important site in Malá Tŕňa, interesting environmental educational activities were also prepared for pupils of the second level of primary school. They were focused on a tour of the geopark exhibition with expert explanation of the origin and geological structure of the Zemplín Hills, or a practical demonstration and knowledge of minerals and rocks. The children interested in inanimate nature also visited a typical Tokaj cellar hollowed out from tufa rocks. They also made mineral exemplars, panning for gold, and searching for fossil remains of horsetails and other plant species
Educational activities also took place in the Banská Bystrica GEOPARK, whose representatives combined with the outputs of © 2021 Erasmus+ project “Jakob Fugger – A historical European influencer”. At the Podlipa mining deposit in Ľubietová, they focused on presenting and teaching about the important phenomena of the geopark, intended for pupils of the Moskovská 2 Primary School, from Banská Bystrica and their friends from Germany, Italy, Belgium and Spain. The young students investigated the possibilities of recovering mining water – the cementation process on iron structures, the observed vegetation on spoil heaps, minerals under a magnifying glass, took samples of the water and examined its composition. They were also involved in the smelting and casting of various replicas of historical structures.
Week of European Geoparks 2022
In cooperation with the Banská Štiavnica and Banská Bystrica Geoparks, the Slovak Environment Agency participated in the international event European Geoparks Week through the implementation of one-day environmental and educational activities.
In the Banská Štiavnica Geopark (7 June 2022), the event called Get to know the volcano you live in was organized for the ninth grade of the Maximilián Hell Primary School from Štiavnické Bane and the first grade of the Samuel Mikovíni Secondary School from Banská Štiavnica. In the form of interesting expert lectures, the students got general information about the origin and development of the Štiavnica stratovolcano, regional mineralogy, mining science and cultural and historical phenomena in connection with the construction of individual elements of the object system in the geopark at the premises of the mining exposition of the Old Saints Mine in Hodruša Hámre. All this was supported by the opportunity to go mining into the Old Saints’ tunnel and to see the exceptional surface exposition, to know the minerals under the microscope, or pan for gold and to get a certificate under the guidance of experienced geologists, geographers and mining experts.
In the Banská Bystrica Geopark (9 June 2022), the event called In the land of the extinct volcano was held in the exteriors of the Lubetha Cottage in Ľubietová for the pupils of the Primary School at Spojová Street, Banská Bystrica, within the framework of the nature school. The pupils learned through interesting presentations about volcanic activity, geological and mineralogical curiosities (especially in the field of opal, garnet and langite formation), as well as about the exceptional attractions of their birthplace. They saw the functional 3D model of the Poľana stratovolcano, minerals from Ľubietová observed through a microscope and tried building models of old mining crafts from the Ľubor Mining Tower, or the work of gold miners in practical gold panning – almandine.
EUROPEAN GEOPARKS WEEK 2021 AT THE SLOVAK ACADAMEY OF SCIENCES: EXHIBITION OF GEOPARKS AND GEOTOURISM IN SLOVAKIA
The Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS), the Slovak Environment Agency (SEA) and the Interdepartmental commission of the Network of Geoparks of the Slovak Republic (IcNG SR) on the occasion of the environmental-educational event European Geoparks Week installed a thematic exhibition of the Network of Geoparks of the Slovak Republic in the premises of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava – Patrónka, in front of the Aula of the Slovak Academy of Sciences.
The aim of the exhibition is to increase the environmental awareness of the general public and professionals about the territorial, natural, archaeological and cultural-historical phenomena of the geoparks of Slovakia, included in the network of geoparks of Slovakia. The exhibition aims to present geoparks as a living, colourful and changing natural phenomenon with an understanding of learning about nature through a comprehensible explanation of natural phenomena. The exhibition also illustrates the long-standing professional cooperation between SAS, SEA and IcNG SR, which have a leading role in supporting the construction and development of such not only geologically significant areas. The exhibition is open to the public from 26 May 2021 to 8 June 2021.
The professional management of geopark areas is a rather challenging issue. The management of geoparks must link the scientific disciplines present in their territories, such as geology, biology and ecology, to the montane, archaeological, historical and cultural specificities. It is therefore essential for any geopark management to know the basic processes taking place in nature and their overlap into the shaping of society. The combination of scientific knowledge and creativity generates several opportunities for popularising not only the geopark, its natural and social phenomena, but also science, scientific knowledge and methods of scientific work. From this point of view, the symbiosis of science/scientists and representatives of geopark management brings real mutual benefits, and it is the specialists of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, especially of geoscientific institutes, who directly or indirectly contribute to the development of geoparks in the territory of the Slovak Republic. Geoparks thus become an active example of building (not yet formalised) partnerships between scientific institutions and the private sector.
There are currently three geoparks in Slovakia included in the network of geoparks of the Slovak Republic: Novohrad – Nógrád UNESCO geopark, Banská Štiavnica geopark and Banská Bystrica geopark. After the ceremony of awarding the decree for the newly established Geopark Malé Karpaty, which will also represent the culmination of the environmental-educational event European Geoparks Week, a fourth Geopark will be added to the three parks already established. It will thus become the next official Geopark of the Slovak Republic.
This special act of declaration of the geopark is planned for 4 June 2021 in the Natural and Mining Open-Air Museum Budúcnost in Pezinok. With this too we would like to wish success to the Geopark Malé Karpaty in its future “geo-life”, with the aim of achieving a functioning and sustainable form of popularization and exploration of the most significant geotopes, as well as the protection of the natural and cultural-historical heritage for future generations.
Text: Earth Science Institute SAS, Slovak Environmental Agency
Photo: Ján Madarás, ESI SAS
Week of European Geoparks 2019
The Slovak Environment Agency supported the Week of European Geoparks event in Slovakia
This year’s “Week of European Geoparks” event took place from 27 May to 7 June 2019 on the territory of Slovak geoparks, Novohrad-Nógrád UNESCO Global Geopark, Banská Štiavnica and Banská Bystrica Geoparks with the active support of the Slovak Environment Agency (SEA).
In the Slovak part of the Novohrad-Nógrád UNESCO Global Geopark, the event was organized for the 11th time. It was opened by a guided hike on the route Fiľakovo – Stará Bašta – Šiatorská Bukovinka – Fiľakovo, focused on the presentation of values of the Geopark with recognizing various bird singing. The main educational event was the competition “Discover Novohrad-Nógrád Geopark” intended for pupils of elementary schools and lower secondary schools in the region of Novohrad with the aim of getting to know the inanimate and living part of the environment of the Cerová vrchovina Protected Landscape Area on the occasion of its 30th anniversary.
A record number of 17 three-member teams took part in the competition for primary schools in Tachty. Through the familiarization with the issue of regional geology (e.g. the Tachty Diatreme) and five external locations, pupils competed among themselves in the macroscopic identification of rock types with their subsequent identification only by touching it, in pre-prepared rock examples of sandstone, crystal, volcanic glass, coal, conglomerate, bivalve fossil, then identification of different species of flora, fauna (out of 50 pictures), as well as identification and location of protected areas in the so-called blind map of Cerová vrchovina – Protected Landscape Area. 11th three-member teams of lower secondary school pupils competed in the village of Radzovce with a similar program as their younger classmates, but in a shorter, more time demanding and more detailed knowledge of regional geology in the Radzovce neighbourhood. Of course, the three best teams of pupils of elementary and lower secondary schools were awarded for their performance with interesting prizes donated to the competition by the Association of legal entities Novohrad-Nógrád Geopark and SEA.
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On 6 June 2019, a similar competition titled “Get to Know Your Geopark” was prepared in the Banská Štiavnica Geopark for lower secondary pupils form the Maximilian Hell School in the village of Štiavnické Bane, the area of the Bakomi Tajch. The Banská Štiavnica Geopark was presented to pupils in an interesting way using 3D animation, together with its regional phenomena followed by a program focused on microscopic exploration of geopark minerals, determination of rock types by touching it, flora and fauna of the Štiavnické vrchy Protected Landscape Area and answering quiz questions concerning the important Water Management trail of Piargy serving the needs of mining in the period from 17th century to the beginning of the 19th century. Five three-member teams took part in this competition.
On 25 June 2019, an information-cognitive event “Our Geopark” will be held in the Banská Bystrica Geopark, in the village of Ľubietová for pupils from elementary schools Ľubietová, Strelníky and Medzibrod. In the beginning, there will be a presentation of the Geopark and its values, followed by a journey to the area of the Podlipa heap field on the Educational Mining Trail. Here pupils learn about the occurrence of Ľubietová minerals, work with a hammer and iron, metallurgical activities with the possibility of hand-blowing into the historic smelting furnace and mining pay stamps. They can also go down to the drift Nová Andreas and an interesting commentary on the fauna living in old mining works will be prepared for them.
In cooperation with the Earth Science Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, the SEA also organized an exhibition “Geoparks of the Slovak Republic” for the general public and professionals for two weeks (from 27 May to 7 June) in order to raise awareness of visitors on established geoparks in the Slovak Republic and potential areas suitable for the establishment of geoparks, their natural, cultural-historical phenomena and tourism products. The exhibition was visited by several hundred visitors, mostly from the Bratislava region.