Geopark 'Biokovo and Imotski Lakes' Launch Joint Initiative to Become UNESCO Geopark

June 4, 2020 - Geopark Biokovo and Imotski Lakes has launched an initiative to join the UNESCO Global Geopark network. 

HRTurizam reports that UNESCO Geoparks are unique geographical areas of international geological significance governed by a holistic concept of protection, education, and sustainable development.

Precisely with the aim of protection, sustainable development and tourism, the Association Geopark Imotski Lakes and the Public Institution Nature Park Biokovo launched an initiative to establish "Geopark Biokovo-Imotski Lakes" to join UNESCO Global Geoparks.

One of the main ways to stimulate the economy and sustainable development of the future UNESCO Geopark is through geotourism, says Luka Kolovrat, president of Geopark Imotski Lakes, adding that by raising awareness and educating about the importance of geological heritage, UNESCO geoparks give the local community a sense of pride and strengthen their identification in the area they live.

“Geoparks attract a larger number of visitors with their activities and enable the launch of various production and service activities that contribute to the socio-economic development of the community. Not only geologically interesting places, but also various other ecological, archeological, historical and cultural sights contribute to geoparks, and they are supported and actively participated by local communities that know how to recognize and want to affirm their geological, historical and cultural heritage, mostly through the idea of geotourism. The opening of innovative crafts and new jobs encourages the creation of new sources of income within geotourism, strengthens the local community, and at the same time, the geological resources of the area remain protected," says Kolovrat.

The boundaries of the future Geopark Biokovo-Imotski Lakes have already been determined, and their total area is 431 km2. They cover the areas of the municipalities of Imotski, Proložac, Podbablje, Zmijavce, Lokvičići, Lovreć, Zagvozd and Runovići.

"Our joint initiative stemmed from the fact that the Biokovo Nature Park and the Imotski region form a geologically, geomorphologically and landscape-unique area of ​​the Dinaric karst, and our wish is to use the potentials of both areas for the benefit of the local community," Kolovrat points out.

In general, when we talk about the area that will include the future Geopark Biokovo-Imotski Lakes, it is an area that in addition to attracting attention with its relief and geomorphological forms, or numerous karst phenomena, adorns a great wealth of flora and fauna including many endemic species.

In addition to the most attractive protected natural monuments and phenomena of world importance, the Red and Blue Lakes, there is also the Krčevac spring, which is currently the only confirmed locality of Proteus anguinus in the Imotski region. There is also the Zovnjača cave in the municipality of Podbablje, which was recently established as an important archaeological and biospeleological site.

Other sights include the Opačac spring, the Vrljika river, Ričice lakes, Galipovac, Knezovića and Mamića lakes, Prološko blato, Lokvičićka lakes, Dva oka and numerous other localities that were created during a long geological period by the tireless work of water. The ichthyofauna of the Imotski region is significant for several protected endemic species, and some of them are soft-mouthed trout (Salmothymus obtusirostris), Croatian roach (Rutilus basak), Imotski gaovica (Delminichthys adspersus), Squalius microlepis, and Cobitis.

So far, numerous systematic and complex geological surveys have been carried out, monitoring is being carried out, the public is being educated, brochures, guides, manuals, and educational materials have been printed.

The joint Geopark website is being developed, as well as the creation and marking geo-trails, and a joint Facebook page has been created, which is updated daily, points out Ivana Ćapin from the Association Geopark Imotski Lakes and adds: “Since we are aware of the great potential of the area which we live with all its features, together we embarked on this challenging project to become part of the international network of UNESCO Geoparks. As for our future joint activities, they are holding a presentation in November this year, then making a ten-year study with a management plan, and marking the geo-trail of the future Biokovo-Imotski Lakes Geopark. And most importantly, in the summer of 2021, the arrival of the Commission and evaluation is expected, and after that the accession to the network of world Geoparks under UNESCO protection," emphasizes Ćapin.

The network of UNESCO World Geoparks consists of areas of the geological and geomorphological heritage of international importance, while the goal of the UNESCO World Geoparks program is to protect geological, geomorphological and other values of geoparks and manage the area through education and implementation of activities following sustainable development goals and for the benefit of the local community.

We currently have two UNESCO Geoparks in Croatia: the Papuk Nature Park and the Vis Archipelago, and we will soon find out whether the Biokovo-Imotski Lakes Geopark will become the third UNESCO Geopark in Croatia.

More information can be found HERE

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