Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
12.2 Sustainable use of geological resources in geopark areas
Thursday, 23/Sept/2021:
4:15pm - 5:45pm

Session Chair: Henning Zellmer, Geopark Harz, Braunschweiger Land, Ostfalen
Session Chair: Volker Wilde, Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum
Session Chair: Heinz-Gerd Röhling, DGGV

Session Abstract

In addition to the world cultural and natural heritage and biosphere reserves, Geoparks were established as a third category by UNESCO in 2015. Since then, the claim has been formulated to develop UNESCO Geoparks into model areas for sustainable development. Unlike in large protected areas, where the use of resources is largely prevented, in geoparks it is more about the sustainable use of geological resources. A key aspect in geoparks is sustainable regional development, which on the one hand ensures the use of resources for future generations and on the other hand does not lose sight of nature conservation and climate goals. The spectrum of conflicting goals to be resolved ranges from groundwater protection to sand, gravel and solid rock mining, energy generation and storage including geothermal energy, to the dumping of nuclear waste and other waste materials in the geological subsurface. Last but not least, the recultivation or renaturation or subsequent use of former open-cast mining areas is one of the currently pending fields of action.

4:15pm - 4:30pm

Preservation of the geological and industrial heritage of a post-mining landscape by the example of the glacial Muskau Arch

Kersten Löwen

UNESCO Geopark Muskau Arch, Germany

The Muskau Arch in the border triangle of Brandenburg-Saxony-Poland is a push moraine that was folded up by the Muskau Glacier during the second Elster surge about 340,000 years ago. In the process, it folded the underlying strata to a depth of approx. 270–290m. It is considered one of the best examples worldwide of large-scale glaciotectonic deformation. As a result of the compression, lignite, glass sands and clays, were pushed to the surface, and a flourishing raw material extraction and processing industry developed between 1840 and 1970. Today, the region is an attractive natural area with 300 to 400 partly coloured post-mining lakes and has developed into a diversified cultural landscape. Numerous projects in the area aim to carry on this closely linked geological and industrial heritage and make it tangible for the people in the region. For example, the narrow-gauge railway once built to transport goods and supply the factories is now operating again since the 1980s as a museum railway to tell the story of the forest railway and the former industrial region. Large open-cast mines that shaped the landscape for a long period are now being recultivated, taking into account their glacial history and incorporating relics in the form of erratic boulders as design elements. Former industrial buildings, such as the old brickworks in Klein Kölzig, are also being integrated into the sustainable development of the region and nowadays serve as Geopark's office on the one hand and illustrate industrial processes of brick production on the other.

4:30pm - 4:45pm

Sustainable use of geoheritage sites and areas across geotrails in UNESCO Global Geoparks and of related elements at Messel Pit World Heritage Site, Germany

Marie-Luise Frey

Welterbe Grube Messel gGmbH, Germany

The sustainable use of geological resources is a management task, demand and challenge. When the European Geoparks Network was founded in 2000, a new view fell on geosites, geotopes, former quarries as resource areas of rocks and energy provider. Their contribution to regional economic development during their active use has been enormous. Only few scientists identified unique scientific value for geosites or geotopes, e.g. for Messel Pit World Heritage Site, Hesse, Germany with the need for protection for and by the global community. Other scientists with far sightedness directed the view onto a new use: geotourism, education and sustainable development. Their initiative started the first geo-trails in territories called geoparks. Infrastructures were restored and directed into a new use. Not only one geo-trail was created. By the positive acceptance of the population the new infrastructure was now used for their weekend walk. Eyes were opened on the formation history of a landscape, cultural connections were identified. An amazing development followed during the last twenty years. Today UNESCO Global Geoparks have a set of trails serving a variety of topics. Their management involves different measures. Maintenance after creation, as well as up dating and marketing are challenging management tasks. A speciality is using infrastructure of former quarries as geotourism highlight for guided tours. Connecting them with visitor requirements leads to modern geotourism products. They finally result in new or larger economic income with sustainable results like new jobs, income and benefits by e.g. selling products of the region or geoproducts presented in this contribution.

4:45pm - 5:00pm

Current use of geological resources under the view of sustainability - examples from the UNESCO Global Geopark Harz . Braunschweiger Land . Ostfalen

Henning Zellmer1, Volker Wilde2

1Geopark Harz, Braunschweiger Land, Ostfalen; 2Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung

When it comes to the mining and use of local geological raw materials, a reflexive, sometimes undifferentiated social rejection arises. The ore, hydrocarbon and coal consumption have now been reduced through recycling and the use of alternative energies or have been replaced by imported products. The last open-cast lignite mine in Schöningen was closed in 2016, the last Harz ore mine in Bad Grund in 1992 and the last iron ore mining in the Salzgitter area in 1976. Petroleum is now only produced to a small extent at a few points in the northern Braunschweig region. At the same time, the consumption of resources such as sand, gravel, solid rock (especially limestone, gypsum) and water continues on a high level. The quarrying of building stone has been almost completely ceased. Some raw materials are imported to avoid the conflict over mining, to take advantage of low labor costs abroad, or simply because they are no longer available in sufficient quantities. In terms of sustainability, there is overall significant potential for improvement. In the further planning of mining sites and quarries, special protection of the groundwater reservoir is of outstanding importance. The lecture describes examples from the UNESCO Global Geopark Harz . Braunschweiger Land . Ostfalen.

5:00pm - 5:15pm

Sustainable mining of sand and gravel in the UNESCO Global Geopark Harz. Braunschweiger Land. Ostfalen

Claus Evers2, Henning Zellmer1

1Geopark Harz, Braunschweiger Land, Ostfalen, Germany; 2Evers & Co GmbH

The company Evers und Co GmbH operates two gravel plants in Süpplingen and Uhry / Helmstedt district and thus produces various sands and gravel, topsoil, mineral mixtures and concrete aggregates, among other things. It is also active in the recycling sector, e.g. producing recycled mineral mixtures. An important aspect of sustainability is that the unconsolidated rock for construction work in the region has only short transport routes. This saves massive amounts of CO2. The yield from the extracted unconsolidated rock is already over 90%. Attempts with sludge recovery, filtering and drying are currently being worked on to process and also use the unused residue from quartz powder and clay minerals. During processing, as much process water as possible is treated and reused. After mining, the pit areas are either directly used as lakes or succession areas for nature conservation or recultivated as farm land.

5:15pm - 5:30pm

The geological heritage as a tool for education and action for the climate change: Understanding the consequences by studying the Petrified Forest of Lesvos

Konstantina Bentana, Nikolaos Zouros, Ilias Valiakos

University of the Aegean, Greece

The geological heritage provides a particularly effective pedagogical tool to engage school students with climate change through on site exploration in UNESCO Global Geoparks. Geological data provides invaluable opportunities to create authentic experiences for school children to understand the consequences of climate change.

The Petrified Forest in Lesvos Island UNESCO Global Geopark shows abundant evidences for past climate change as it reveals information about the composition of the palaeoflora (an important indicator of the past climatic and environmental conditions and their changes) the last 20 million years. At the same time the Lesvos Petrified Forest is an area where the petrified flora coexists with today’s flora. This characteristic provides unique opportunities for school children to explore the consequences of climate changes.

In this paper is presented the educational program “Climate change: Learning about the consequences by studying the Petrified Forest of Lesvos” and the educational materials that have been designed to educate school students on climate change issues. Through a variety of educational activities, pupils are encouraged to explore the consequences of climate change, to think critically, formulate arguments, evaluate solutions and choices, and take action. Geological data, palaeoflora and today flora and their diversity are used as the main pedagogical tools during the educational programme.

5:30pm - 5:45pm

The educational role of historical mining sights for sustainable use of geological ressources – examples from the UNESCO Global Geopark Bergstraße-Odenwald

Jochen Babist, Jutta Weber

UNESCO Geopark Bergstraße-Odenwald, Germany

The educational role of historical mining sights for sustainable use of geological ressources – examples from the UNESCO Global Geopark Bergstraße-Odenwald

In a Geopark, historical mining sights can act as showcase for landscape modification and education for sustainable development (ESD). As elements of the recent cultivated landscape, they provide an excellent motive to discuss aspects of utilization of geological raw materials in actual products, their provenance and related mining and processing. In addition, deep insights into visitor mines and historical mining landscapes by guided tours open the view to environmental consequences of historical mining up to now (e. g. with respect to soil erosion processes), awareness of human impact on our planet earth. Thus the processes of sustainable development and awareness building can be established easily.

The UNESCO Global Geopark Bergstraße-Odenwald realizes this strategy by a strong cooperation with the voluntary „Mining Research Group Odenwald“. Due to intense contacts with departments of monument protection and universities, the working group is able to carry out professional interdisciplinary research on historical mining and cultural landscape evolution in the Geopark region. On the other hand, the Geopark’s network enables preservation projects within the local mining landscapes, development of information panels and the operation of an own visitor mine. This scientific, geo-touristic and educational infrastructure is presented to the public by guided tours dealing with results of actual research and experimental archaeology events. In this context, ESD is the predominant concern.

All activities are reported at the Geopark´s network platform, within its calendar of events, and in online and print media. This combination of networking, local expertise, citizen science and collaboration with governmental institutions enables the reflection of the Global Agenda 2030 from a holistic point of view and also deeply rooted with the Geopark inhabitants and visitors appreciation.