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This unique book is dedicated to helping promote geoheritage, geoconservation, and geoparks in Africa and the Middle East. Local, regional, global and thematic case studies including a geoheritage toolkit are used to illustrate the scope and depth of geoheritage and highlight some current geoparks and aspiring candidates in Africa, the Middle East, China , Europe,and Australia.

This special issue mainly consists of the proceedings of the First International Conference on Geoparks in Africa and Middle East (FICGAME) held in, El Jadida, Morocco in 2011. The conference, hosted by the Faculty of Sciences of Chouaib Doukkali University, was organized by the African Geoparks Network and the African Association of Women in Geosciences incollaboration with the UNESCO Cairo Office.



Erratum to: The Geoheritage of Kerdous Inlier (Western Anti-Atlas, Morocco): Pages of Earth History in an Outstanding Landscape

Without Abstract
E. Druguet, A. Rahimi, J. Carreras, L. M. Castaño, I. Sánchez-Sorribes

History of Geoheritage, Geoparks and Geotourism


Geoheritage and Geoparks in Africa and the Middle-East: Challenges and Perspectives

Africa and the Middle East consist of a rich geodiversity, which is regrettably not well known by the public. This is due partly to limited research and studies undertaken in geoheritage and geoconservation in these parts of world, especially those with the intent to explore, inventory and valorize such inherent geodiversity. With the aim to improve this situation, the African Geoparks Network (AGN) was created to increase the awareness of the local population and decision makers regarding the need for sustainable use and management of geoheritage in particular for the benefit of local socio-economic sustainable development targets through the promotion of both geotourism and the creation of unique geoparks.
Ezzoura Errami, Gabi Schneider, Nasser Ennih, Hasina Nirina Randrianaly, Abderrahmane Bendaoud, Abdelmajid Noubhani, Nick Norman, Mamoon Allan, Lopo Vasconcelos, Luis Costa, Mohammed Al-Wosabi, Abdulkarim Al-Subbary, Percy Mabvuto-Ngwira, Gbenga Okunlola, Salisu Lawal Halliru, Lala Andrianaivo, Sophie Siby, Béatrice Ketchemen, Marcelle Gauly, Mohsen Hassine, Fawaz Azki, Tea Juliette, Kmar Lattrache, Monica Omulo, Peter Bobrowsky

Geotourism and Geoparks: Africa’s Current Prospects for Sustainable Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation

Geotourism is a relatively new type of tourism with significant growth potential. Initially defined in Europe, USA and Australia, it is an international developing academic, economic and sustainable rural development investigation field. The term geotourism has been in use since the early 1990s, although its precursor activities can be traced back to the 17th century. Benefiting from its significant social, historical and industrial archaeological underpinnings, the concept is still undergoing redefinition and refinement. This paper explores current literature on geotourism and geoparks in relation to sustainable development in Africa. Furthermore, it explores current literature on the direct and indirect sustainable development impacts from geotourism and geoparks, and their implications on social, environmental and economic development on rural communities. The literature has shown that these concepts, relatively new in Africa, present essential credentials for poverty alleviation and sustainable rural development on the continent.
Percy Mabvuto Ngwira

Geology: From Antiquity to Modern Day Geoheritage and Geoconservation, with Britain as a Case Study

This paper outlines the long history of investigations and writings in regard to the geology, i.e., in the increasing level of awareness of the geological phenomena and the properties of geological materials resulting in different uses and hence different values being assigned to stone, minerals and metals, and crystals. This history spans from antiquity to the secular scientific endeavours that led to founding principles in geology, and the development of its discipline and sub-disciplines. The post-industrialisation events in Britain led to the world’s first geosite inventory-based on geoconservation needs. While the beginnings of curiosity in geology date back to the beginning of civilisation, interest in what is now termed geoheritage, in modern times, largely derives from Britain. As such, with its classic sites, reference sites, and type locations, many of which are global standards for stratigraphy, and sites illustrating geological principles, Britain provides a case study of the history and development of geoconservation.
M. Brocx, V. Semeniuk

History of Geoheritage, Geoparks and Geotourism: Case Studies


Geosites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and Potential Geoparks in the Anti-Atlas (Morocco)

An inventory of the geoheritage features of the Anti-Atlas region has been performed to promote geoheritage and geoconservation in Morocco. This latter is best achieved after assigning heritage values to these features and identifying geosites, specific areas of special value or interest (Geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest, or SSSI) that usually are of International significance, or by viewing sites as integrated geological ensembles with significant geology that needs to be protected as an ensemble (Geoparks). Sites that could function as geosites, SSSI and/or as geoparks have a special significance for research, education and geotourism. The Anti-Atlas geology reflects its tectono-metamorphic and magmatic evolution from the Proterozoic to Mesozoic with plate collision, subduction and obduction witnesses, Mesozoic stratigraphic sequences, fossil-bearing strata, and arid zone landforms. Sites that could function as SSSI include pre-Pan-African doleritic dykes, the Bou Azzer and Siroua Ophiolites, the Pan-African diamictites, the Major Anti-Atlas Fault, the Late Neoproterozoic stromatolites, the unconformity between the late Neoproterozoic Ouarzazate volcanic Supergroup and Cambrian Tata Group, the contact between Taghdout Group and the Zenaga Eburnian (Palaeoproterozoic) formations, the contacts between three Pan-African Groups, viz., Saghro Group—Mgouna Group—Ouarzazate Group, the Ediacaran Iknioun granodiorite and the Devonian Kess Kess carbonate mounds. Sites that could function as geoparks include: the Zenaga inliers, the Neoproterozoic passive margin (Taghdout Group), and the Jurassic Foum-Zguid dyke traversing various formations. The Anti-Atlas region also hosts numerous internationally important fossil localities that could function as SSSI, e.g., the large Cambrian trilobite (Paradoxides), Ordovician trilobites (Asaphus) as death assemblages, Silurian and lower-most Devonian Orthoceras-rich black limestones, Frasnian plants from the Drâa Valley and ammonite-rich limestones. The geological areas that host these SSSI could function as geoparks.
E. Errami, M. Brocx, V. Semeniuk, N. Ennih

The Geoheritage of Kerdous Inlier (Western Anti-Atlas, Morocco): Pages of Earth History in an Outstanding Landscape

The Kerdous massif (Anti-Atlas of Morocco) consists of outstanding geological features and landscapes, such as many fascinating erosion landforms. Moreover, the outcropping rocks in the area comprise a unique record of multiple processes in the Earth geological evolution. The first list, resulting of the preliminary inventory of the most relevant and representative geosites in the region includes four large zones of exceptional value. These are the granite landforms of Tafraoute (south of Tafraoute village), the Ameln valley (north of Tafraoute), the Aït-Mansour gorges (southeast of Tafraoute) and the Izerbi plain (south of the Kerdous inlier). Their features make the Kerdous area worthy of conservation as a natural-cultural site deserving a Global Geopark status. The protection of these geosites is compatible with their use as a cultural resource. Geoheritage-based tourism activities could be promoted under an appropriate management plan based on geoeducation and geoconservation.
E. Druguet, A. Rahimi, J. Carreras, L. M. Castaño, I. Sánchez-Sorribes

Recommended Geoheritage Trails in Southern Morocco: A 3 Ga Record Between the Sahara Desert and the Atlantic Ocean

The remote regions of Southern Morocco are rich in outstanding geological landscapes and outcrops not well known to the general public. In this paper, we propose two east-trending geotrails (transverse to the regional trend of the structures) with a total of 19 geosites of particular interest for geotourists as well as for geologists. The southernmost, Dakhla-Awsard geotrail gives the opportunity to observe the oldest rocks (Archaean) of Morocco, belonging to the West African Craton (WAC), and their relatively thin Palaeozoic cover. This trail also presents a section across the Variscan nappes thrust over the craton, which is a unique geological setting in Morocco, but extending widely southward to Mauritania. Finally, the trail includes four geosites in the Cretaceous-Cenozoic deposits of the Coastal Basin, close to the Dakhla sea resort. The northern geotrail starts from El Ouatia (Tan-Tan Plage), another sea resort situated 700 km in the north of Dakhla. This trail illustrates the main geological features of the Tarfaya Atlantic margin basin and provides a cross-section of the Anti-Atlas Variscan folds up to the border of the WAC. Here the External Variscan belt differs from that of the Dakhla transect by the great thickness of the Palaeozoic series and the contrasting styles of tectonic structures (faults and folds versus thrust nappes). The equipment and the promotion of these geotrails will increase the attractiveness of the wild nature of the Saharan regions of Morocco.
O. Saddiqi, E. Rjimati, A. Michard, A. Soulaimani, H. Ouanaimi

The Geoheritage of the Doukkala-Abda Region (Morocco): An Opportunity for Local Socio-Economic Sustainable Development

The Doukkala-Abda region has a rich natural heritage, making it an important attraction for national and international tourists. However, its geoheritage remains little known to the general public, despite the numerous multidisciplinary scientific studies that have been carried out. A preliminary inventory has identified 36 geosites, reflecting the geomorphological, geological and environmental history of the region. The scientific, technical and ecological aspects of 14 of these geosites are described in this paper. They are: the Precambrian rhyolites, the Sidi Saïd Mâachou basin with its numerous geosites, consolidated and unconsolidated dunes, Jbel Irhoud, the escarpments of Jorf Lasfar, Sidi Bouzid and Lalla Fatna, Sidi Moussa-Oualidia lagoon complexes, Zima Lake and El Goraan, El Khenzira and the Oualidia caves. The rich bio- and geodiversity of these sites has an important geotouristic potential. An objective evaluation of these sites is needed. This will allow the development of geotourism and ecotourism as new component of cultural tourism. A network of geotrails linking coastal geosites to sites in the hinterland would help promote socio-economic activities and create jobs which will increase the income of the local population whose economy is mainly based on agriculture and cattle breeding.
A. Enniouar, E. Errami, A. Lagnaoui, O. Bouaala

Late Cretaceous and Lower Paleogene Moroccan Phosphates: Geotourism Opportunities

Late Cretaceous and lower Paleogene Moroccan phosphate deposits are one of the best examples of Moroccan geological heritage. These deposits are rich in well-preserved fossil remains including giant marine reptiles, as well as teeth of extinct sharks and rays which have been collected in vast quantities. The Cherifian Office of Phosphates Group (OCP) has recently outlined a strategy to promote sustainable ecological development. In this context, certain sites within the phosphate deposits could be incorporated into a modern Geosite Trail for tourism. Such a trail might start with a visit to the “Museum of Palaeontology” planned in the mining town of Khouribga. This would position visitors within walking distance of sites to be designated within the mining areas, including key representative sections of different geological strata. Besides showcasing the natural beauty of the landscape, these sections present a panoramic view of the lithology and stratigraphy of the phosphate series, displaying both geological features and mining operations. To ensure sustainability, the area would need to be declared a Geopark where geological activities are encouraged but regulated. In addition to the protection and the enhancement of the palaeontological riches, such a declaration would benefit the economy of the local population for whom collecting fossils is a principle economic activity supplementing agriculture and cattle breeding.
Abdelmajid Noubhani

El Kef, Conservatory of the Memory of Earth and Humans in Tunisia: A Geodiversity to Discover and a Heritage to Protect

El Kef region, located in the northwestern part of Tunisia, is of exceptional geoheritage value. It comprises a substantial number of sites that are remarkable in terms of their scientific quality, rarity, aesthetic appeal and educational value. The long period of time recorded in the rocks (245 Ma ago to the present) has rendered it a subject of scientific study for more than a century. The diversity of rocks and fossils reflects the variety of sedimentary environments. Many sites of high educational value were identified. In this paper, we draw particular attention to eight geosites, namely Koudiat El Mrira, Hammam Mellegue, Dyr El Kef, Table of Jugurtha, Oued Mellegue Dam and Jebel Jerissa Mine, the Lower Paleolithic Sidi Zine site and Neolithic Sidi Mansour caves. This preliminary inventory of geosites aims to increase the awareness of local populations and decision-makers about the necessity to inventory, protect and promote the sites of geoheritage significance for a local sustainable development.
N. Ben Haj Ali, L. Memmi, M. Ben Haj Ali

Use of Website and GIS Databases for Enhancement of Geosites in Algeria

Algeria is the largest country in the African continent. It contains a large number of sites with geological and geomorphological interest but, so far, the Algerian geological heritage is poorly known and needs to be protected and enhanced for education, tourism and scientific purposes. A “GeoAl” project has been initiated to compile an inventory of those major geosites with exceptional geological features in Algeria, to create a GIS database, and to promote Algerian geoheritage using the new technologies of information and communication. This database will be open access and will be beneficial to the public and researchers. The database also will allow users, through maps, to geologically explore the entirety of Algeria, identifying and investigating important sites with all the available information, including photos and scientific literature. The database will evolve gradually with the inventory and will also be used as a tool for the identification and the promotion of areas with high geological potential that could be managed as geoparks. These later areas constitute one of the most appropriate instruments for both protection of natural resources and creation of economic activities. Ideally, the database will benefit the development and the promotion of geotourism as a means for sustainable development in different remote areas in Algeria, and of craft and small businesses through the creation of activities necessary for the functioning of the concept.
A. Bendaoud, M. C. Chabou, O. Kolli, O. Bouzidi, S. Djemaï, H. Kaabeche

Dinosaur Track Sites in Algeria: A Significant National Geological Heritage in Danger

Numerous dinosaur track sites are known in Algeria. Most of them are located in the Saharan Atlas, in addition to one site in the Djurdjura Mountains with small footprints assigned to Rotodactylus, one of the earliest members of the dinosaur lineage. Two sites have been known for a long time: (i) the Amoura site, located in the Cenomanian layers at Djebel Bou Kahil, eastern Saharan Atlas; It is one of the oldest known scientific references to dinosaur tracks in the world and contains theropod footprints; and (ii) the Tiout site located at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary layer near Ain Sefra, Ksour Mountains, western Saharan Atlas; this site also contains theropod footprints. Recently, several sites have been discovered in Lower Cretaceous strata in the El Bayadh area (western Saharan Atlas). These sites contain many tracks which include both theropod and sauropod footprints, some of which are exceptionally large and well preserved. Regrettably, this invaluable world geological heritage is now facing dramatic decay if no serious actions are undertaken to protect and conserve it.
M. C. Chabou, M. Y. Laghouag, A. Bendaoud

Dinosaur Footprint Sites in Arhab Area: An Aspiring Geopark in Yemen

The Arhab area in Yemen possesses a cultural and natural heritage that needs to be enhanced and protected. Dinosaur footprints represent the most important geological heritage features in the region and in the Arabian Peninsula. They are distributed within an area of 200 km2. The Arhab area possesses all the requirements to be a geopark; these include a large area, the occurrence of geological and paleontological features of regional and international importance, several archaeological sites, willingness of the local community to be involved in a geopark project, a society in need of socio-economic development, elements of scientific and cultural tourism, and ease of access to the region. Establishing a geopark in the region will safeguard and preserve the geological, paleontological and archaeological heritage and improve the quality of life for the local communities. The local Government of Yemen, the local council of Arhab area, and international communities should work together to promote, support and establish that project.
M. Al-Wosabi, A. A. Al-Aydrus

Geomorphological Features of the Manengouba Volcano (Cameroon Line): Assets for Geotourism and Other Anthropogenic Activities

Mount Manengouba, a volcanic complex emplaced between 1.5 and 0 Myr, occurs in the Cameroon Line, about 120 km NE of Mount Cameroon, Cameroon. Mount Manengouba culminates at 2,411 m and is characterized by important geomorphological features (geomorphosites), namely, two nested sub-circular calderas (Elengoum and Eboga), broken cones, crater lakes (Female, Male and Beme), and domes and basin (Djeu-Seh). These geomorphosites constitute an asset for geotourism and other anthropogenic activities. The scientific values (rareness, representativeness, integrity…) and additional values (aestheitic, ecological, economic…) Mount Manengouba geomorphosites constitute an enterprise for geotourism. The fertility of the soil favours farming in the downslope areas of the volcano, with the main products being coffee, maize, bananas, fruit and tubers. Hunting and fishing are practiced by craftsmen throughout the year in the forests and Female Lake, respectively. Vegetation cover fosters the practice of animal breeding (beef and sheep) in both calderas and their vicinities. The presence of pyroclastic cones are utilised for quarrying in the region. Pozzolana is the main product that is used as road aggregates, and in the manufacture of concrete, bond-stones and cement. Excursions and research programs are carried out by universities for educating the public about the geological and geomorphological heritage of Mount Manengouba. Currently, in the Mount Manengouba region, tourism is not well developed, but it is recommended that, roads be improved to facilitate the accessibility to the geomorphosites, and interpretative panels, guide books and postcards be produced to inform tourists about the geology of the region.
G. T. Zangmo, A. D. Kagou, D. G. Nkouathio, P. Wandji, M. D. Gounté

Enhancing the Geological Heritage of the Apuan Alps Geopark (Italy)

The geoheritage of the Apuan Alps Geopark is represented by outstanding examples of tectonic structures, a variety of rocks and minerals, hypogean karst systems and geomorphological landforms. Archaeological investigations and historical records indicate a long history of mining and quarrying and record the sociological impacts of these activities. Long before the term ‘geopark’ came into common usage, the Park’s Authority sought to integrate the rich geological heritage of the area with the promotion of sustainable geotourism. Three cultural and tourist attractions related to geosites of special significance and beauty were identified (the Corchia Underground System, the Karst-palaeontological Park of Equi Terme Caves, and the Archaeo-mining area of the “Bardiglio Cappella” marble). These attractions constitute the main tangible assets of the Geopark. Using Geopark’s attractions and experience as a case study, this paper describes the development of projects to popularize geology through environmental education, publications, websites and partnerships with universities and agencies for research and environmental protection.
A. Amorfini, A. Bartelletti, G. Ottria

Geoparks in China

During the period 2000–2011 a total of 27 Global Geoparks and 140 National Geoparks have been established in China. 79 other parks have obtained the qualifications to become National Geoparks. The study of the geological background of the Chinese geoheritage resources in terms of their geomorphology, tectonic, and stratigraphy allows proposing a classification scheme for the geoparks in China. Chinese geoparks have been divided into 8 types, which covered the different geological settings and landscapes. Researchers in regard to these geoparks have made great achievements in several different areas including geoconservation, popularization, Earth Science education, socio-economic and cultural development. This paper discusses new measures of geopark construction and developments taken by China to meet these challenges.
Z. Zhizhong, Z. Xun, L. Changxing, Y. Xiaohong, C. Xiaoning

The Karst Geomorphologic Regionalization in China

Many geomorphologic types of karst are developed in China throughout an area of 910,000 km2. Depending on the large differences in terrain types and climate throughout the country, and relying on genetic and morphological approaches, as well as assessing the maximum similarities and the minimum differences of karst landforms within each landform region, the karst features are classified into eight geomorphologic regions, i.e., humid tropical karst landform region (I), humid tropical-subtropical karst landform region (II), arid-humid subtropical-semihumid temperate karst landform region (III), humid-semihumid temperate karst landform region (IV), arid-semiarid temperate karst landform region (V), humid tropical-subtropical-humid-semihumid plateau temperate karst landform region (VI), humid subtropical-semiarid plateau temperate karst landform region (VII), and plateau-high mountain karst landform region (VIII). The karst landform in the region I is dominated by coral reefs (islands) and some scattered hilly karst where one national karst geopark has been established. Region II, typified by well-developed karst, is where 90 % of fengcong (cone karst) and all fenglin (tower karst) in China occur, with semi-karst formations of hilly karst, valleys and plains. Thirty-one national karst geoparks are established in the region. Region III is characterized by buried, covered karst, and some karst mountains and hills, especially the cap-shaped karst; two national geoparks are established in this region. Region IV is characterized by ridge hill valleys, cluster hill valleys and karst mountain valleys; one national karst geopark is established in this region. Region V consists of middle-high karst mountains and widespread semi-karst landforms of hilly mountains; only one national karst geopark is established in this region. Region VI is characterised by high-mountain karst such as fengcong deep canyons and gentle fengcong canyons, where five national geoparks of karst are established. Region VII is characterised by undeveloped karst being no different from the non-karst landscape. Region VIII is characterised by two basic types of karsts, the high karst mountains and the semi-karst mountains. No karst geopark has yet been established in regions VII and VIII.
W. Chen, Y. Zhang, H. Qin, D. Zhu, X. Wang

Using the Geoheritage Tool-Kit to Identify Inter-related Geological Features at Various Scales for Designating Geoparks: Case Studies from Western Australia

To further the disciplines of geoheritage and geoconservation, a Geoheritage Tool-kit has been developed in Western Australia to systematically compile an inventory of the full diversity at various scales of geological and geomorphological features in a given area, assess their levels of significance, and address whether geoheritage features are treated in isolation or as inter-related suites that should be conserved as an ensemble. The objective of the Geoheritage Tool-kit is to provide a systematic approach to develop a database or inventory of sites of geoheritage significance. Use of the Geoheritage Tool-kit begins with identifying geological regions, then listing their geological essentials to develop a database for sites of geoheritage significance. The next stage is to locate good examples, of these features, or of inter-related ensembles of features, regardless of scale, and assess them according to significance criteria. After an assessment of the range, categories, inter-relationships, and level(s) of significance of the geological features, the final step is to determine what type and what level of geoconservation the area requires. Three areas: King Sound and the tide-dominated delta of the Fitzroy River; Leschenault Peninsula, a retrograding Holocene dune barrier in south-western Australia, and its leeward estuarine lagoon; and the Walpole-Nornalup Inlet estuary, provide case studies of the application of this Tool-kit. Each of these coastal areas comprises a wide variety of geological and geomorphological features, from large to fine scale, and varying in significance from International to National to Regional. Some key features of global significance include: the tide-dominated delta at King Sound, the calcrete, beach rock, and calcitised sea rush roots at Leschenault Peninsula, and the intra-estuarine deltas in the Walpole-Nornalup Inlet estuary. In terms of geoconservation, addressing the various features of geoheritage value in this area is best achieved by viewing the systems as an integrated geopark of interactive processes, geology, and geomorphology.
M. Brocx, V. Semeniuk

Microscale Geology and Micropalaeontology of the Becher Point Cuspate Foreland, Australia: Significant Geoheritage Values at the Smallest Scale—A Model for Identifying Similar Features in Geosites and Geoparks

Geological features of heritage significance can range from the largest scale (montane and drainage basin) to microscale. The smallest scale of geoheritage include globally significant features such as the Archaean zircon crystals from Jack Hills, Australia (the oldest crystals on Earth), snowball garnets from Sweden (illustrating kinematic rotation under metamorphism and shear), and microbiota in Precambrian rocks. It also can include regionally significant microscale features that provide insights into the more local history of the Earth, hydrology, hydrochemistry, climate, and vegetation. The Becher Point Cuspate Foreland, a Holocene accretionary sandy deposit in south-western Australia, is recognised as an internationally significant area for its geomorphology, stratigraphy, wetlands, and record of climate history. Of specific importance are the wetlands that occur in the inter-ridge swales of the beach ridges. The wetlands record in their sediments a history of climate, vegetation, hydrology, and hydrochemistry, staged over a 4,500 year interval in the oldest wetlands, and over an interval of <1,000 years in the youngest wetlands. Whilst Becher Point has been recognised as Internationally significant as a Ramsar site for its macroscopic features, its importance as a site of geoheritage significance continues to the smallest scale in that its microscale geology (calcrete, carbonate grain dissolution) and micropalaeontology (pollen, calcified charophyte fructifications, and other microbiota) provide important (metaphoric) “letters of the alphabet” that can be used to read the history of the sedimentary and climate record of the region. This area provides an excellent example of how the pollen and charophyte fructifications and other microscale geological features function as important markers and signatures within the Holocene history of the beach ridge plain and wetlands and, as such, represent significant geoheritage values at the smallest scale.
V. Semeniuk, C. A. Semeniuk, F. Trend, M. Brocx
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