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A Suggested Geopark Site: Gypsum Karst Topography between Sivas-Zara

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Geoparks have been defined as geographical areas where geological and geomorphological heritage sites are part of a holistic concept involving the conservation of all the natural and cultural heritages (Akbulut 2009). Geoparks have certain aims and there are many criteria for classifying geoparks as outstanding. More than a single criterion may be required for a geopark to be declared worthy of being considered part of our heritage. A combination of criteria is usually considered. Here is the list of selection criteria for geoparks: scientific value, geotourism appeal, educational, historic, cultural, spiritual, and social values, international significance, and link to biodiversity, aesthetic value and sustainability (Aguirre 2000 in Wartiti 2007). Indeed, all over the world it is important to designate areas of variety and with interesting morphological features as geopark areas. European countries in particular have improved these areas recently and have declared many areas to be geopark sites. Some of these sites are, at the same time, National Parks in these countries. Today there are legal arrangements to protect geopark sites in European countries.

Turkey is an important country in terms of geological and geographical heritage. Although legal background in various periods in Turkey exists, it has not reached the level required to protect these areas. Recently, however, there have been many studies about geoparks (Farımaz 1988; Doğaner 1996; Garipağaoğlu Farımaz 1996; Doğanay 2000; Koçman, 2004; Somuncu et al. 2004; Inaner et al. 2005; Efe et al. 2008). There is a project to be prepared in the scope of “Turkey's Geological Heritage Sites and its Determining of Conversation-Usage Criterions” by the MTA (General Directorate of Mineral Exploration and Research) in Ankara. The aim of the project is to determine the inventory of geological heritage sites in Turkey and to bring about the observance of the conservation statutes concerning these sites (Gürler & Derman, no date). The other aim of this project is to provide the usage of the geopark sites and inform the local public on how to protect them. As a result of this project, pilot geopark sites in Turkey have been designated, such as Goreme Historical National Park Geological Heritage Resources Research Project, Dilek Peninsula: Adnan Menderes Deltası Geological Heritage Source Values Survey, and A Suggested Geopark Area Karapınar in Inner Anatolia Project (Gürler 2007; Gürler and Nurlu 2009). In this regard, project managers have submitted pilot geopark site studies to the Nature Conservation and National Parks General Managers. In addition, scientists interested in geoparks can determine new geopark areas, and they can fill in the necessary forms and apply to the MTA. When we considered the related criteria and aims of the MTA, we suggested the gypsum karst topography between Sivas-Zara to be cited as a geopark area. Gypsum Karst features occur in Oligo-Miocene in Sivas and its surroundings. There are many examples of karrens, dolines, poljes, caves, karstic lakes, swallow holes, natural bridges, and karst rocks that provide key evidence of certain geological times on Earth. This area has some of the most beautiful examples of poljes and collapse dolins (Alagöz 1967; Doğan and Yeşilyurt 2004; Akpınar and Akbulut 2007). Hence, these features constitute a great potential for geoparks as natural geological and geographical laboratories. In addition, although the importance of geopark sites in terms of education, history and culture, and aesthetic value is well known, there are still some legal problems relating to the actual utilization of geopark sites.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

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