The Vikos-Aoos Geopark in Epirus has been rated as one of the five most important Geoparks in the world, according to UNESCO evaluators.
The Epirus Geopark has been evaluated so favorably in terms of geo-aesthetics and karst limestone formations.
The two evaluators — Stephan Legal from France and Manfred Kupetz from Germany — met with Epirus Governor Alexandros Kachrimanis after a three-day re-evaluation.
The UNESCO evaluators rated the Vikos-Aoos Geopark underlining the important steps taken in the last few years for the promotion of the Geopark by the Development Company “Epirus” SA, the Epirus Region and the Municipalities of Zagori and Konitsa.
Legal and Kupetz emphasized the new conditions created for tourism and the promotion of local products.
The governor expressed his satisfaction with what was conveyed to him by the two UNESCO Geoparks evaluators, who visited more than 50 of his points of interest.
He also stressed that the positive image of Vikos-Aoos Geopark is a precursor for Zagori to be included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
‘The Vikos-Aoos Geopark get the recognition they deserve’
“Our aim is to achieve the maximum, through the Development Company and in cooperation with the municipalities of the area, we work to be better every day,” Kachrimanis told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA).
“I believe that the recognition of the Vikos-Aoos Geopark as a UNESCO World Geopark was the stimulus for us to ask, on behalf of the Ministry of Culture, for the Zagori area to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List,” Kachrimanis added.
Zagori Mayor Georgios Soukouvelos, pointed out that the municipality and its residents have embraced the concept of the Geopark, which can contribute to the development of tourism, but also to the promotion of its local products.
“I am pleased with what was said at the meeting. “On the one hand, they rank the Geopark in the five best geoparks in the world in terms of the geomorphology of the Tymfi complex and this makes us proud,” he added.
Evaluators see more development in the next years
Marfred Kupetz, who is in charge of the German-Polish transnational Geopark Muskau Arch Geopark, said he is very pleased with the Vikos-Aoos Geopark, estimating more development in the area in the next 5-10 years.
“The re-evaluation mission was organized in a very pleasant way. We had the opportunity to see the famous area landscape and talk to locals,” he said.
“As a geologist, I was amazed by the aesthetics of the geological landscape. I have seen many landscapes with white limestone and green flysch, but I consider this area to be among the top five in the world,” Kupetz said.
The other assessor, Stephan Legal, who is in charge of the Luberon Geopark in France, said:
“We had the opportunity to see how the Development Company Epirus SA manages the Vikos-Aoos Geopark in a holistic way that concerns not only geology, but also the natural and cultural heritage.”
“We now have 169 geoparks globally moving forward together and working together to manage geopark areas in this way.”
“In each Geopark, we want to promote development that has to do with local products, local activities and, of course, all that with respect for the natural and cultural heritage of the place.”