Geopark near Prague is closer to reality

The large area is rich in fossils and geological history

The area between Prague and the town of Zdice is rich in fossils and may become a national geopark named for geologist Joachim Barrande. The goal is to get onto the UNESCO list of global geoparks. The symbol of the proposed park is an extinct sea mussel. A memorandum of cooperation was recently signed. The new geopark status could be announced within half a year to a year.

A geopark is an area that protects and uses geological heritage in a sustainable way, and promotes the economic well-being of the people who live there. The city of Prague and the Central Bohemia region want to get the area listed on the growing network of national geoparks and then on the list of world geoparks. The Environment Ministry also supports the geopark idea. For the area to become a geopark, it needs to be approved by the Geopark Council at the Environment Ministry.

The Barrandien Geopark (Geopark Joachima Barranda) would include Točník Castle (picture), the Chrustenická mine shaft, the surroundings of Rokycany, the surroundings of the Koněpruské caves and the area around Karlštejn and Srbsko villages in the river Berounka valley.

“We are striving for a naturally and culturally interesting area southwest of Prague to have a similar status as another six territories in the Czech Republic,” Jiří Kvaček of the National Museum Society said, according to daily Mladá fronta Dnes.

Kvaček is one of the initiators of the project, along with other geologists, paleontologists, and scientists as well as Agentura Koniklec.

The civic society Agentura Koniklec was established in 1992 to develop geoparks.

The idea of creating a geopark in Central Bohemia first arose at the start of the millennium and documentation was submitted in 2012. The government has signed a memorandum of cooperation on the geopark with the National Museum Society.

The area is significant not only for its fossils but for its caves, mines and other cultural and geological features. The National Museum hopes the area will attract more people once the status of a geopark is announced.

Rangers will be available in some areas who for a fee could guide groups to some of the most significant features in certain areas such as Karlštejn or Koněpruské caves, and even Prokopské údoli at the edge of Prague, according to Kvaček.

Now that the idea has the support of the Central Bohemia region, the next step is to find someone who can communicate the idea to local groups and municipalities, Kvaček said, adding that the idea still needed fine tuning.

Under the memorandum of cooperation, the National Museum Society and the other interested partners will meet regularly to develop and promote cooperation on building the geopark, and work on its inclusion in the UNESCO Global Geopark Network.

The National Geoparks Network was created in 2006 under the auspices of the Environment Ministry. It was created to assure standards and verifiable quality management for areas seeking membership in the European Geoparks Network and UNESCO Global Geoparks Network.

Another objective is to create conditions for protection, presentation, interpretation and sustainable use of geological heritage of the Czech Republic.

In October 2005, the Bohemian Paradise Geopark became a member of the European Geoparks Network and UNESCO Global Geoparks Network. Other geoparks in the Czech Republic are Egeria Geopark, the Železné hory Geopark, the GeoLoci Geopark, the Blanik Knights' County Geopark and Podbeskydí Geopark.

Four other parks are in an advanced stage of their candidacy for national geoparks: Joachim Barrande Geopark, Highlands Geopark, Jeseníky Mountains Geopark and Ralsko Geopark.

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