We have important news for Buzău Land. After a few years of work, we are ready to take the next step and propose that this wonderful territory become a UNESCO International Geopark.
This year, the application for obtaining the UNESCO status was the main topic of discussion between the Buzău Land NGO, the Buzău County Council and the University of Bucharest. We talked, we planned, we set up the "Land", and we turned our informal partnership into an official one. Click here to view the document.
Thus, today, 25.06.2020, Buzau land NGO sent to UNESCO the Letter of intent for obtaining the status, which can be consulted here.
Sending the letter does not mean that we have obtained this status, it means that we have initiated the process. This process will most likely take two years, during which time we will do many other works in the Land, will prepare the complete documentation for the application and receive an evaluation visit from international UNESCO specialists.
Since many of us, especially those living in the Land, are wondering what this status entails and how it impact will have on our lives, we have put together a list of questions and answers. We will add more answers as we receive questions from you.
What is a UNESCO Geopark?
A Geopark is a territory with natural and cultural values of international importance, especially geological values that are significant for the history of our planet. It is an "Earth Park", where the local natural and cultural heritage is used to support the communities. In other words, it is a territory of sustainable development whose values and achievements are recognized by UNESCO.
Is the Geopark a protected area?
No, the Geopark is not a protected area. But the Geopark may contain protected areas. For example, Buzău Land has the Mud Volcanoes from Păclele Mari and Pâclele Mici, the Rock-hewn dwellings, the Sandstone Concretions from Ulmet, the White Rock from Mânzălești, which all have protected status.
What is a sustainable development territory?
It is an area where efforts are made for the educational, economic and socio-cultural development of communities. This development is responsible and is done in balance with the protection and development of the environment. In Buzau Land we are trying to find a balance between the use and protection of the environment, so that the progress of society is accompanied by an improvement in the quality of the natural and cultural space. Sustainable development is based on local resources: human, cultural, natural. The main pillars of this process are the environment, the economy and the society.
Will the Geopark status affect my daily activities?
The geopark does not bring any restrictions to the inhabitants. People can live their daily lives as they always have. However, we want to increase awareness and empathy for nature, so that in time we still "affect" some of the activities… such as dumping waste in nature :).
What are the benefits of the Geopark status?
The benefits are many. Buzău Land becomes an internationally recognized territory. It will be promoted by UNESCO and the European and Global Geoparks Network. The UNESCO Geopark status is a magnet for visitors (including from abroad) and will attract entrepreneurs on the side of alternative tourism, agrotourism, cultural and adventure tourism. But there is a difference: the Geopark does not do mass tourism, but responsible tourism :).
Also, acest status brings enough fame so as to to attract investment in many areas. It is an opportunity for economic and social rebirth of a rural area that has not benefited from many opportunities. The land will become a place that we will enjoy visiting, but especially, where we will enjoy living. It is an opportunity for some of the young people who have left to return. And, who knows, maybe to attract other people who had no connection with the area, but who came to love it.
Who submits the application to UNESCO?
The UNESCO application is based on a partnership between Buzău Land NGO, Buzău County Council and the University of Bucharest. The application itself is written and submitted by the Buzău Land NGO.
What is the evaluation and accreditation process?
1. In the first instance, the letter of intent is sent to UNESCO (download here).
2. By the end of November 2020 we must submit the complete application, where we must prove why the Buzău Land has values worthy of UNESCO status. The application must illustrate how, in recent years, we have managed to use these values for the good of the community. The application also contains our plan for the development of the territory in the next period.
3. By May 2021, our file is being evaluated by international specialists. If our arguments are relevant and if UNESCO considers Buzău Land to deserve international recognition, we move on to point 4.
4. In May-September 2021 we receive the evaluation visit of two UNESCO specialists from different countries. They will go with us to the Land to discover the places, the people, the values and what we have done so far.
5. Based on the evaluators' recommendation, UNESCO will take a decision during the spring of 2022.
More details about the process, here.
What happens if we get the accreditation?
We become a UNESCO Geopark, a status we must maintain.
Every four years, our team will have to submit a report demonstrating that we have implemented the management plan and that we have improved the quality of the economic, social, natural and educational environment in the Land. Every four years we have to prove that the Geopark does its job for the benefit of the community, and every time we receive the visit of two international specialists who revalidate us.
The geopark is not a territory with a stagnant status, which we receive forever. It is a status that we must deserve and work to preserve. This is the secret of success :).
Who will manage the UNESCO Geopark?
The management of the Geopark will be provided by the Buzău Land NGO, will be supported by partners, a Scientific Council and an Advisory Board. The Buzău Land NGO is made up of specialists in fields essential for sustainable development, who work at European universities or prestigious companies. What we do every day in our professional life, at university or at the office, we also do for Buzău Land. Our team took over the “Buzău Land” initiative in December 2013 and since then we have been working hard for the development of the area. The application we are now making in 2020 is a culmination of the effort made in recent years and the transition to a new stage of this initiative. For more details, you can consult the ABOUT US and ABOUT THE LAND pages.
Who provides the Geopark budget?
In order for Buzău Land to function as a UNESCO Geopark, it needs a multi-annual budget. Part of this budget is provided by the Buzău County Council, and the other part from the funds of the Buzău Land NGO. To the budget of the Geopark add sponsorships, donations, the redirection of 3.5% of the salary tax and the income realized from the sale of the products of the Buzău Land brand. And you can contribute if you redirect the 3.5% to us, or if you order a product from our online store.