（1）What is a Geopark?
“Geo” is a prefix signifying “earth” and “land.” A geopark is a kind of natural park containing geological heritage that has great scientific importance and value or that is simply beautiful to look at. Geological and geomorphological conditions not only reflect the earth’s history but also have direct relevance to people’s lives and cultures. Geoparks help us learn about and enjoy the earth’s activities as a set of heritages.
In 2004, with UNESCO’s support, geoparks of European countries, China, Japan, and other countries came together to form the Global Geoparks Network (GGN). In October 2010, the San’in Kaigan Geopark obtained admission to the GGN. In September 2014, the San’in Kaigan Geopark expanded its area and was readmitted to the GGN. In 2015, the GGN became an official program of UNESCO.
About the Global Geoparks Network
About the Japanese Geoparks Network
（2）Differences between world heritage sites and global geoparks
Unlike the world heritage sites that are designated mainly for preservation, geoparks aim not only to conserve natural heritage featuring geology but also to use such heritage for education and regional revitalization. It is in this aspect that geoparks are different from world heritage sites. Also, with respect to geoparks, emphasis is placed not only on places but also on activities conducted there (e.g. educational programs, tour guide training, and community promotion measures) and organizations managing the geoparks. Moreover, unlike world heritages, geoparks are subject to revalidation every four years.
（3）Requirements to meet to be registered as a geopark
An aspiring geopark must meet the following requirements. – That the aspiring geopark has a clear and well-defined boundary and sufficient area, and has not only geological value but also ecological, archeological, and historical/cultural value – That the aspiring geopark, with its local people playing a central part, develops a well-defined and effective management structure comprising public institutions, private organizations, and research and educational institutions, and draws up a well-laid management plan
– That the aspiring geopark vitalizes economic activities and ensures sustainable development by such means as tourism
– That the aspiring geopark conducts education and promotion activities by such means as museums, nature viewing paths, and guided tours
– That the aspiring geopark ensures to carry out appropriate protection measures and effective conservation measures
– That the aspiring geopark, as a member of a global network, exchanges information with other members of the network, participates in conferences, and actively vitalizes the network
（4）How to enjoy geoparks
In a geopark, besides watching and experiencing its magnificent nature, you can observe various living things and people’s lifestyles, histories, and cultures that have relevance to the development of its earth heritage. At each geopark facility, you are provided with various kinds of information about the geopark. Facilities are also staffed by full-time geo-guides who give easy-to-understand explanations on the region. You are recommended to participate in one of the tours led by geo-guides. With their help, you will be able to see the landscapes from a new perspective, gain insight into what makes the geopark’s earth heritage special, and better understand its historical and cultural backgrounds. After the study tour is over, take your time and enjoy the other aspects of the geopark as well. For example, you can enjoy delicious local food or refresh yourself in a hot, relaxing spa, which is one of the gifts from the “geo.”
Tottori Sand Dunes