The Introduction to Naturtejo UNESCO Global Geopark
Category:Naturtejo UNESCO Global Geopark, Portugal

Geopark Naturtejo Meseta Meridional – Portugal

 

Highlights from a special place of Earth

 

  Naturtejo Geopark is located in the inland, in the center of Portugal, near the border with Spain, and covers an area of 4624 km2. It is located 200 km from Lisbon and 350 km from Madrid, right in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula. The application to join the Global Geoparks Network started in 2003 and was successfully completed in September 2006.

  Naturtejo territory is rich and diverse in Geological Heritage, starting some 600 million years ago, with widespread shales and turbidites deposited in deep sea, until nowadays’ plains and residual landforms. The Geopark also has an ancient historical, cultural and human component connected with nature for more than 150,000 years, promoting the integrated development of Geotourism. The Geopark is a strong partnership of municipalities and local entrepreneurs to develop innovative synergies in the local economy and sustainable development. 
The Geopark's territory is characterized by very ancient landscapes, such as the 50 million years old “Meseta Meridional” peneplain from where residual reliefs rise up abruptly, as quartzite crests which represent the former Ordovician ocean cradle of paleobiological diversification and innovation; there are also granites cropping out as an inselbergs archipelago and as demi-horst mountains with peculiar minor landforms.

  The outstanding geomorphological, geological, paleontological and ancient mining heritages are composed of 19 geomonuments with national and international relevance, such as the Ichnological Park of Penha Garcia, Portas do Ródão Natural Monument, Zêzere and Vale Mourão gorges, the Roman gold mine of Conhal do Arneiro and the granite landforms from Serra da Gardunha and Monsanto.

  Geoconservation is one of the main aims of the Geopark. It is important to preserve Geological Heritage for our and future generations. Naturtejo has several areas protected by local and national laws, providing interpretation to raise awareness of the importance of Geoconservation within Nature Conservation. Ichnological Park of Penha Garcia, the Landscape of Gardunha Mountain and Conhal do Arneiro are protected under municipal laws and Portas de Rodão Natural Monument and International Tagus Nature Park integrates the National Network of Protected Areas.

  Naturtejo Geopark Educational Programs are adapted to the Portuguese school curricula where students and teachers can apply together what they are learning in the classroom and find it in a natural context. One of our first aims is to raise the awareness of young people, and educate them to respect and conserve Nature. It is possible to have approaches in many different matters of Geosciences and integrate them in understanding Nature. The Educational Programs are targeted by specialized guides in geosciences for all the different teaching levels and run in different places of the Geopark depending on the teacher’s aims, allowing the students to know about the geomonuments and to understand that they are the key to the history of our planet.

  Naturtejo Geopark offers a trekking network with more than 600 km of both short and long trails that invite tourists to discover the Geopark’s geodiversity and culture while they walk through the territory. Boat trips and geokayaking in Tagus and Zêzere rivers may also be enjoyed. 300km of mountain bike trails and 4 climbing areas, besides sky diving, are on offer for those who enjoy a challenge. Geocircuits by bus in the geomonuments are available for those less adventurous. There is also the museum network that enables the visitor to learn about archeology and local culture. Schist shops are available in the Schists Villages, places where schist and local products are preserved as in former times. New ways to find old tastes are a joy for the senses in geo-restaurants and geo-shops. There are also Historical Villages, national protected communities where the time has stopped, but life goes on in endless experiences.