The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has approved the inclusion of two Brazilian parks in the list of the global geoparks recognized by the entity.
The recently released list UNESCO named Caminhos dos Cânions do Sul Park, located between the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul; and Seridó Park, in Rio Grande do Norte state, to be the new entries.
With UNESCO´s decision, Brazil has now three global geoparks, as the organization had already recognized Araripe Geopark, located in the Araripe Basin, which extends across southern Ceará, northwest Pernambuco, and eastern Piauí.
Geoparks are territories recognized by UNESCO as regions that have scientific, cultural, scenic, geological, archaeological, paleontological, and historical importance, and that also combine conservation with sustainable development, through the empowerment of local communities.
“The sites in this network have an extraordinary geological diversity that supports the biological and cultural variety of different regions. Geoparks serve local communities, and combine the conservation of their unique geological heritage with public dissemination and sustainable development,” according to UNESCO.
The Seridó Global Geopark covers an area of 2,800 km² in the semi-arid region of northeastern Brazil, home to more than 120,000 inhabitants, including communities such as the quilombolas. The local inhabitants “keep alive the memory of their enslaved African ancestors in order to preserve their culture through traditional practices, museums, and cultural centers,” UNESCO says.
The region located in the Caatinga, the only exclusively Brazilian biome, also has one of the largest mineral reserves of scheelite in South America, an important tungsten ore, in addition to basalt flows resulting from volcanic activity during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras.
The Caminhos dos Cânions do Sul Global Geopark, in southern Brazil, covers an area of 2,830.8 km² and is home to 74,120 inhabitants. The Atlantic Forest, one of the richest ecosystems on the planet in terms of biodiversity, covers part of this region.
In the pre-Columbian period, the inhabitants of the region took shelter in paleoburrows (underground cavities excavated by extinct paleovertebrate megafauna, such as the giant sloth), whose numerous remains are still visible in the geopark.
“The site features the most impressive canyons in South America, formed by unique geomorphological processes that the continent underwent during the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, about 180 million years ago,” UNESCO noted.
Besides the two parks in Brazil, UNESCO has also declared six other geoparks: the Salpausselkä Geopark, in Finland; Ries, in Germany; Kefalonia-Ithaca, in Greece; Mëllerdall, in Luxembourg; Buzău Region, in Romania; and Platåbergens, in Sweden.
With the new additions, the Global Geoparks Network now brings together 177 areas in 46 countries.