Famenne-Ardenne recognized by UNESCO as a Global Geopark
The geological region Famenne-Ardenne was officially launched as Global Geopark by UNESCO for the period 2018-2022Natural Sciences
On 24 April 2018, the geological region Famenne-Ardenne was officially launched as Global Geopark by UNESCO for the period 2018-2022. The two Belgian Commissions for UNESCO – the Commission belge francophone et germanophone pour l’UNESCO and the Flemish Commission for UNESCO – have supported the preparation and submission of the application for recognition by UNESCO.
The new UNESCO Geopark is located in Wallonia, in the south of Belgium. The surface of this area is 911 km² and it houses about 70.000 inhabitants. It includes the villages of Beauraing, Durbuy, Hotton, Marche-en-Famenne, Nassogne, Rochefort, Tellin and Wellin.
The geological formations of the Geopark date from the Palaeozoic (541 to 251 million years ago), an era in which the marine environment under influence of changing climatological conditions, deposited sandstone, limestone and clay. These deposits were folded during the Hercynian orogeny (295 million years ago) and flattened thereafter.
The title of ‘Global Geopark’ is a label that UNESCO has been assigning since 2015 to territorial areas that possess and valorise internationally important geological heritage. The sustainable development of geological areas is the ultimate goal of this recognition.
The Geopark Famenne-Ardenne comprises the valley of the rivers Lesse, Lomme and Ourthe. This is an area with extraordinary geological potential, including:
- caves and exceptional sites of karst phenomena, which are unique in Europe;
- rocks that are made of carbonates, specific to the climate and environment of the Palaeozoic;
- landscapes of which the geomorphology is reflected directly in the nature of the soil;
- soils that permit the development of a large biodiversity.
The label of ‘Global Geopark’ allows the valorisation of the geological area named “Calestienne”, a 130 km long narrow strip of limestone in the Belgian region of Wallonia, as well as an increase of touristic activities in the region with 15 to 20%.