Geosite and Geomorphosite Assessment as a Tool for Geoconservation and Geotourism Purposes: a Case Study from Vizovická vrchovina Highland (Eastern Part of the Czech Republic)

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The geoheritage of the Czech Republic presents a basis for geoconservation and geotourism activities which have a long tradition in the region. Sites of geological and geomorphological interest have been appreciated for a long time, and from the nineteenth century, some have been de clared as protected. The first official list of protected sites was created during the 1930s, and in 1956, the first law on nature conservation was approved. Today, nature conservation is covered by the Act 1141992 Coll. that enables landscapes, karst features, minerals, and fossils to be protected as well as the establishment of protected areas. In addition, there are many other geoconservation assessments, e.g., the database of the geological sites or the network of the national geoparks. In the National Parks, Protected Landscape Areas or geoparks, the promotion of geosites and geomorphosites is well devel oped. However, outside these areas, the promotion and use of sites for geotourism purposes is relatively poor, although it is obvious that they can represent a source for geotourism activ ities that can foster local economic development. For finding out which sites are suitable for geotourism development, a simple method was proposed and the selected sites of the Vizovická vrchovina Highland (Czech Republic) were assessed. Based on this, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were identified. The assessment and the following analysis of the area can serve as a basis for the future proposals for geotourist use of the sites. See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273181442 Geosite and Geomorphosite Assessment as a Tool for Geoconservation and Geotourism Purposes: a Case Study from Vizovická vrchovina Highland (Eastern Part of the Czech Republic) Article  in  Geoheritage · January 2016 DOI: 10.1007/s12371-015-0143-2 CITATIONS READS 26 546 authors: Lucie Kubalíková Karel Kirchner Institute of Geonics AS CR Institute of Geonics AS CR 21 PUBLICATIONS   95 CITATIONS    112 PUBLICATIONS   345 CITATIONS    SEE PROFILE SEE PROFILE Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: Disaster management support scenarios using geoinformation technologies View project The environmental impacts of anthropogenic activities on the landscape and its components - part of Institucional project - Institute of Geonics, Czech Academy of Sciences View project All content following this page was uploaded by Karel Kirchner on 14 March 2018 The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file Geoheritage (2016) 8:5–14 DOI 10.1007/s12371-015-0143-2 ORIGINAL ARTICLE Geosite and Geomorphosite Assessment as a Tool for Geoconservation and Geotourism Purposes: a Case Study from Vizovická vrchovina Highland (Eastern Part of the Czech Republic) Lucie Kubalíková & Karel Kirchner Received: 31 July 2014 / Accepted: 25 January 2015 / Published online: February 2015 # The European Association for Conservation of the Geological Heritage 2015 Abstract The geoheritage of the Czech Republic presents a basis for geoconservation and geotourism activities which have a long tradition in the region Sites of geological and geomorphological interest have been appreciated for a long time, and from the nineteenth century, some have been declared as protected The first official list of protected sites was created during the 1930s, and in 1956, the first law on nature conservation was approved Today, nature conservation is covered by the Act 114/1992 Coll that enables landscapes, karst features, minerals, and fossils to be protected as well as the establishment of protected areas In addition, there are many other geoconservation assessments, e.g., the database of the geological sites or the network of the national geoparks In the National Parks, Protected Landscape Areas or geoparks, the promotion of geosites and geomorphosites is well developed However, outside these areas, the promotion and use of sites for geotourism purposes is relatively poor, although it is obvious that they can represent a source for geotourism activities that can foster local economic development For finding out which sites are suitable for geotourism development, a simple method was proposed and the selected sites of the Vizovická vrchovina Highland (Czech Republic) were assessed Based on this, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were identified The assessment and the following analysis of the area can serve as a basis for the future proposals for geotourist use of the sites L Kubalíková (*) : K Kirchner Institute of Geonics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, v.v.i Branch Brno, Drobného 28, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic e-mail: LucieKubalikova@seznam.cz K Kirchner e-mail: Kirchner@geonika.cz Keywords Geotourism Geoconservation Geosite and geomorphosite assessment Vizovická vrchovina Highland SWOT analysis Introduction Visiting natural sites that are important from the geological or geomorphological point of view has been practised for a long time (Migoń 2009; Dowling 2013), and today, the number of people who are looking for the deeper experience of the visited site or area is growing; these visitors want to know more about the site or area and related issues (in the case of the geosites and geomorphosites, this information should cover not only Earth sciences but also historical, archaeological, ecological or artistic aspects of the site), and in the case that an area or a site is protected, they wish to understand why Of course, they also expect a good quality of support services such as safe and well-marked paths, information services (leaflets, information panels, guided tours etc.), accommodation, transport facilities and catering and they expect that there will be an opportunity to buy products that are typical for the area, whether it is a local food, drink or handicraft product These factors contribute to the development of sustainable forms of tourism (especially geotourism), and they can help the economic development of the rural areas (Pásková 2012) There are several definitions of geotourism; probably, the most comprehensive is the definition of Dowling (2013): Geotourism is sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing the Earth’s geologic features in a way that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation and is locally beneficial Geotourism product protects, communicates and promotes geoheritage, helps build communities and works with a wide range of different people It is obvious that geology and geomorphology form an essential resource for geotourism activities Reynard et al (2003) and Reynard (2008) analysed the relationship between geomorphology and tourism: geomorphology may be a tourist resource as part of the primary or original offer (geomorphological site as an attraction or geomorphological site as a support for tourist activity) and a secondary or derived offer, when tourist infrastructures (e.g didactic trails), instruments (e.g educational booklets) or services (e.g guided tours) are developed for the effective use of the original offer Gray (2013) also stated that geodiversity is of great value for geotouristic and geoeducational activities—it is one of the functions of geodiversity; however, it is evident that geodiversity as a whole cannot be used for geotourism purposes; and tourist use of geodiversity is generally made through the exploitation of geosites and geomorphosites (Pralong 2003; Pralong and Reynard 2005) The cultural issues also have a big influence on the geotourism development (Panizza and Piacente 2008) as they often increase the attractiveness of the geosites and geomorphosites Past and Present of Geoconservation and Geotourism in the Czech Republic The Czech Republic is geologically and geomorphologically very diverse; within its area, nearly all the geological periods and a considerable number of the landforms types can be traced (Budil et al 2012) Already in the nineteenth century, some geosites and geomorphosites were frequently visited and they became traditional touristic destinations, e g Pravčická brána, a natural sandstone arch in the Czech Switzerland National Park in northern Bohemia (Cílek 2010) The first attempts to protect nature in the Czech countries were linked to the protection of forests, wood and game, and they appeared already during the Middle Ages Later, in the nineteenth century (the period of the Romantic Movement), geological and geomorphological sites were also finally found worthy of protection (Vrška and Hort 2008) as the Romantics went to nature and they admired its wilderness and purity This fact is reflected in the art (e g the painting of Antonín Mánes: Landscape with Kokořín castle in the storm) The first nature reserve in the Czech countries was Žofín forest in the Novohradské Mountains (established in 1838, now a part of the Natural Reserve Žofín forest) and the first Bgeological^ protected site was the Barrand Rock in Prague declared in 1884 (now a part of the Barrand Rocks National Natural Monument) In 1893, other sites were declared as protected: Panská skála near Kamenický Šenov (see Fig 1) and Vrkoč near Ústí nad Labem—both sites display columnar jointing of basalts (Vítek 2012) At the turn of the nineteenth Geoheritage (2016) 8:5–14 Fig The former basalt quarry Panská skála near Kamenický Šenov is one of the oldest protected nature monuments in the Czech countries, declared already in 1893 The typical columnar jointing of the basalts is well visible (photo J Riezner) and twentieth century, other geological and geomorphological sites were declared as protected, e g Hưllengrund near Česká Lípa (1895, a gorge in sandstones today a part of the National Natural Monument Peklo), Šerák a Keprník in Jeseníky Mountains (1904, mountain ridges with tors and isolated rocks—the oldest reservation in Moravia, today ŠerákKeprník National Natural Reserve) and Šibeničník hill near Mikulov (in around 1917, Jurassic limestone cliff, today Šibeničník Natural Reserve) (Kamarád 1975; Vítek 2012) However, these protected sites were private and there was no real concept of Bnature protection^ at that time In 1919, soon after the establishment of the independent Czechoslovakia, the institute of Bnature conservators^ was established This group (usually university professors, scientists, but also local patriots and teachers) was asked to look for naturally important sites (Veselý et al 1954) In 1922 when they started to act, there were only 23 private nature reserves; in 1938, there were 160 nature monuments and reserves all around Czechoslovakia (Čeřovský 2004) In that period, the most important step forward was the New Year’s Eve Decree, the first official list of the protected nature monuments It was published in 1933 and it comprised 108 sites from Czechia, 18 sites from Slovakia and 12 sites from Carpathian Ruthenia The list included forest areas, wildlife areas and geological and geomorphological sites (Pešout 2013) Concerning legislative protection, there had already been some proposals for a law for the protection of the nature in 1922, but none was accepted, so protection was still unsystematic (Vrška and Hort 2008) In 1956, the first law of nature conservation (Act No 40/ 1956 Coll.) was adopted It defined several categories of territorial protection (National Park, Protected Landscape Area (PLA), State Natural Reservation, Protected Deposit, Protected Park or Garden, Protected Study Area, Protected Natural Monument), and it enabled the protection of minerals, fossils and rock formations However, the law was very Geoheritage (2016) 8:5–14 Bbenevolent^ and allowed a number of exceptions in relation to agricultural, industrial, mining and construction activities Cases of total destruction of natural phenomena were not rare, some geologically and geomorphologically important sites were damaged or they even disappeared, e.g the canyonlike valley of the Jihlava River (flooded by the dams Dalešice and Mohelno) or some karst areas which disappeared due to limestone quarrying (e.g the destruction of the karst system at Lažánky area northwest from Brno) After the social and political changes of 1989, the situation changed and a new, quite progressive law (Act No 114/1992 Coll.) was adopted Currently, this law is the main legislative tool governing the protection of nature, it comprises territorial protection, species protection and general protection and it enables landscapes, karst features, minerals and fossils to be protected There are six levels of the territorial protection: National Park (NP), Protected Landscape Area (PLA), National Natural Reservation (NNR), National Natural Monument (NNM), Natural Reservation (NR) and Natural Monument (NM) In July 2014, 2519 sites and areas were protected Important geological and geomorphological sites are usually protected as National Natural Monuments or Natural Monuments, although some NNR and NR with important geological or geomorphological phenomena were declared too Natural Monuments, or National Natural Monuments are defined as a natural part of an area, in particular a geological or geomorphological formation, deposits of rare minerals or place of occurrence of endangered species in fragmented ecosystems, having a regional, national or international environmental, scientific or aesthetic importance, including formations which were formed by the human activity (articles 35 and 36, Act No 114/1992 Coll.) Within general nature conservation, a considerable number of natural outcrops, river valleys or alluvial flood plains are protected in the category of Significant Landscape Component; the landforms and landscapes of larger scale are protected in the category of Natural Parks In these sites and areas special conditions apply in relation to the water management or construction activities (Budil et al 2012) The administrations of National Parks and Protected Landscape Areas have developed a wide offer of interpretation facilities and services concerning geoheritage which is also very rich and wide (e.g geological paths in Czech Karst, guided tours in Podyjí National Park) All administrations develop visitor centres where visitors can gain knowledge about the nature of the area It is frequent that administrations cooperate with local museums, local and regional authorities and other institutions and associations, both public and non-governmental (e.g the Czech Geological Survey, Agency for Nature Conservation, Czech Union for Nature Conservation) In the Czech Republic, the National Geoparks Network (or NGN), linked to the European Geopark Network, is established The National Geoparks Network is coordinated by the National Geoparks Committee which consists of experts from different branches (geoscientists, economists, pedagogues etc.) Any territory associated in some way with a significant geoheritage can become a member of the NGN The most important documents concerning geoparks are The Charter of National Geoparks (http://www.geology.cz/ narodnigeoparky/o-siti) and The Directive of the Ministry of Environment No 07/2006 (updated in 2011) which includes criteria for establishing national geoparks as well as criteria for the temporary status of candidate geopark Today, there are six territories which bear the title BNational Geopark^: Bohemian Paradise, Železné hory, Egeria, GeoLoci, Kraj Blanických rytířů and Podbeskydí The candidate geoparks are Vysočina, Ralsko, Jeseníky and the Geopark of J Barrande There are also another two potential areas: Krkonoše and Broumovsko A remarkable geoconservation project that can be used for the geotourism purposes is The Database of Geological Localities (more than 2800 sites in July 2014) that is maintained and updated by the Czech Geological Survey Geoscientific characteristics, the degree of protection and conflicts of interest are given for every site The database is open and anyone can propose a new geosite or update the information (via consultation with a specialist) (http://lokality geology.cz/) The Database of Speleological Objects is run by the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic and it is focused on karst phenomena (http://jeso.nature.cz/) Methods The geological and geomorphological heritage within the geoparks, National Parks and Protected Landscape Areas (and also within some small-scale protected areas) is well known and promoted However, there are many sites outside the protected areas and geoparks that are locally important not only from the geoscience point of view but also from the historical or cultural point of view These sites can represent the source for geotourism activities that can foster the local economic development and as the legends, myths, cultural and historical events are usually linked to those sites, the sites play an important role in local identity Nevertheless, a visitor is not usually attracted only by geological and geomorphological aspects of the site—a suitable infrastructure (e.g marked paths, transport, accommodation), information facilities (e.g leaflets, information panels, promotion of the site via internet) and cultural and historical aspects of the site also play an important role To know which site is suitable for geotourism purposes, a simple assessment method was proposed This method is based on the analysis of the principles and definitions of geotourism (e.g National Geographic Society 2005; Dowling and Newsome 2010; Martini et al 2012; Hose 2012), and it is coming out from the already existing and used methods of geomorphosite assessment (e.g Panizza 2001; Coratza and Giusti 2005; Pralong 2005; Serrano and González Trueba 2005; Reynard et al 2007; Pereira and Pereira 2010) According to the National Geographic Society’s definition of geotourism (2005), the key aspects of the geotourism are represented by integrity of place, international codes, market selectivity and diversity, tourist satisfaction, community involvement and benefit, protection and enhancement of destination appeal, land use and planning, conservation of resources, interactive interpretation and evaluation; according to Dowling and Newsome (2010): geologically based, environmentally educative, tourist satisfaction, sustainable, locally beneficial The geomorphosite approach also emphasises added values (e.g cultural, historical, ecological aspects of a site) Leading on from the above, five groups of criteria which should be included in geosite and geomorphosite assessment method are defined (Kubalíková 2013) as follows: Criteria which consider an assessment of the scientific and intrinsic values (diversity, understood as a number of interesting geomorphological features which are present at the site (Pereira and Pereira 2010), or morphology, understood also as number of landforms present at the site (Serrano and González Trueba 2005) and importance of geological and geomorphological features and processes, the scientific knowledge of the site)—based on the principles Bgeologically based^ and Bintegrity of place^ and geology and geomorphology—oriented definitions of geotourism (Dowling and Newsome 2010) Criteria which consider an assessment of the exemplarity and pedagogical potential of the site (clarity and visibility of geological and geomorphological features and processes, the availability of the products that support education: leaflets, guided tours, maps, trails, information panels, information centres)—based on the principles Benvironmentally educative^, Bprotection and enhancement of destination appeal B, Binteractive interpretation and evaluation^ This is probably the most important group of criteria as educational or cognitive aspects appear in most of the definitions of geotourism Criteria which consider an assessment of accessibility of the site and the presence of tourist infrastructure (accommodation, restaurants, shops, local products etc.)—based on the principles Btourist satisfaction^, Blocally beneficial^, Bmarket selectivity and diversity^, Bcommunity involvement and benefit^ These are a very important group of criteria as new definitions and new approaches (Dowling and Newsome 2010; Hose 2012) emphasise the involvement of local people Geoheritage (2016) 8:5–14 Criteria which consider an assessment of the existing threats and risks, assessing conservation activities or existing legislative protection of the site—according to the principles Bsustainable^, Bland use and planning^ and Bconservation of resources^ Criteria which consider an assessment of the added values (ecological, cultural, historic, archaeological, artistic, religious value of a site, aesthetic, landscape and scenic value)—according to the definition of the National Geographic Society (2005), geotourism does not consider only the natural aspects but cultural and aesthetic aspects of a site and the geomorphosite concept (Panizza 2001) also includes these added values which are important for the geotourism offer (Panizza and Piacente 2008) Table shows the simplified method that was used for geosite and geomorphosite assessment in the study area Some criteria and their assessment are based on Kubalíková (2013) After the assessment of a site, a SWOT analysis of the area or of each site can be done to get the overview of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the sites and study area (Kubalíková and Kirchner 2013) The Study Area Vizovická vrchovina Highland is situated on the eastern part of the Czech Republic on the border with Slovakia Geologically, it belongs to the Flysch complex of the Outer Western Carpathians The area is a part of Magura Flysch Belt (Rača tectonic unit) that is formed of alternating layers of claystones and sandstones of Mesozoic and Paleogene age The area is characterised by a largely dissected relief of highlands and mountain ranges with intervening deep valleys and basins (Demek and Mackovčin 2006) The study area (see Fig 2) forms the north-eastern part of the Vizovická vrchovina Highland and is known as the Komonecká hornatina Mountains The area is built by Paleogene Flysch rocks of the Zlín Formation and the Soláň Formation of the Rača tectonic unit of the Magura Flysch Belt The central part of the area is formed of the geomorphological district Klášťovský hřbet Ridge which reaches the altitude around 700 m a.s.l (Vrátnice 683 m, Krajčice 730 m, Kopce 699 m), and it is drained by the Senice River (left tributary of the Vsetínská Bečva River) Bedrock consists mainly of coarse grained sandstones of Luhačovice member of Zlín Formation of the Magura nappe (Krejčí et al 1997) The tectonic setting of these sediments forms a part of the Čertovy kameny—anticlinal zone with the anticlinal position of Flysch strata The different rock resistance and the conditions of the strata position influence the structural-denudational relief of the Klášťovský hřbet Ridge which is represented mainly by the steep Geoheritage (2016) 8:5–14 Table Proposed method for assessing the geosites and geomorphosites for the geotourism purposes (for every criterion, a value from to can be attributed) Scientific and intrinsic values 1.a Earth-science importance and rarity of the site (number of similar sites in the study area, local/ regional/national/international significance of the site) 1.b Scientific knowledge of the site (existing scientific papers, monographies) 1.c Morphology, diversity of the site (diversity of landforms—a number of landforms which are present at the site, both macro and micro scale) Educational values 2.a Exemplarity and representativeness of the site (clarity and visibility of the features and processes, the site’s intelligibility to the public, possibility of explaining the corresponding processes) 2.b Presence of educational facilities (leaflets, web pages, information panels, guided tours, specialised excursions for students) Economical values 3.a Number, distance and quality of tourist services (existing tourist facilities— accommodation, restaurants, shops, information centres) 3.b Accessibility (by individual and public transport, possibility of parking) Conservation 4.a Conservation activities (legal protection, values proposals for legal protection, other types of protection) 4.b Risks and threats to the site (both natural and anthropogenic) 4.c Current status of the site, the level of disturbance or degradation, existing management measures to avoid the damage of the site Added values 5.a Cultural (historical/religious/archaeological) values—the legends, myths, historic events, archaeological aspects, poetry… 5.b Ecological value (relationships to living nature)—the occurrence of protected species, the relationships between the landform and ecosystem 5.c Aesthetic/landscape/scenic value—number of colours, structure of the space, viewpoints Kubalíková 2013 hillslopes, isolated boulder accumulations, landslides and sandstone outcrops where the large amount of the mezoforms and microforms can be seen (pseudokarst caves, honeycomb weathering etc.) At the alluvial plain of the Senice River, the typical fluvial features can be found (Kirchner 2004) Based on the detailed fieldwork, six representative sites were selected for detailed analysis: Site 1: Kopce pseudokarst caves The site is located in a landslide area and includes both crevice-type pseudokarst caves and a rocky landslide (with dimensions of 200×250 m which is quite unique within the area) that are both of gravitational origin (Baroň et al 2014) There is 11 large pseudokarst caves created thanks to the deep seated landslide, the biggest of them reaches the depth of 14 m, and another are around 7–10 m deep The walls of the caves are covered by calcareous sinter The site has also a high added value due to the presence of a cultural-historic component (remnants of Bronze Age settlement nearby—a quartz wall) and a geomythological aspect (existence of various legends connected to the caves—especially about the treasures hidden by bandits) As the caverns are home to species of bat (Baroň and Řehák Z 1997), the site also has a high ecological value Site 2: Devil’s rocks/Čertovy skály The unique structural-denudation rocky rampart is formed of vertical sandstone layers The crag is divided into several regular blocks and along a system of fissures some small pseudokarst caverns have formed The total length of the wall is around 250 m; the height reaches 25 m Its width in its upper part is around m The surface of this rocky rampart is covered by various microforms typical for sandstone weathering (honeycombs, tafoni, weathering pits) The site is protected by the law in the category of Natural Monument (the year of declaration was 1966) The cultural and historical aspect of the site is also very important—there are many myths (mostly connected to the devil’s activities) and aesthetical aspects of the site are also very significant (the wall dominates the surrounding landscape) The site is presented in various tourist guides and it is used by the climbers which brings some problems (e.g rope traces, surface abrasion) Site 3: Láz This site has the character of a frost cliff (3 m high and 50 m long), and it is built by quartzose sandstones It was formed by cryogenic and gravitational processes, and it exhibits many interesting weathering phenomena such honeycombs, weathering pits and tunnels The typical features for this site are spherical cavities (maximal dimensions are 0.6 m in diameter, 0.35 m in depth, see Fig 3) The cliff is divided by fissures with a north–south direction Along these fissures, some deep clints are developed (maximum depth is 0.4 m, maximum width 0.6 m, length around 10 m) On the western part, on the top of the frost cliff, there are several weathering pits; the biggest is filled with water and has a diameter of 0.6 m On the eastern part of the cliff, there is a tunnel leading into the rock (length of m, diameter of 0.75 m) The nearly entire surface of 10 Geoheritage (2016) 8:5–14 Fig The position of the study area within the Czech Republic and its geological context (adapted from the Czech Geological Survey) the cliff is covered by microforms of honeycomb weathering Thus, this site is very rich in the mesoand microforms which represent its most valuable features (e.g the tunnel leading into the cliff is a unique mesoform within the study area) Near this site, a scout camp is situated Site 4: Horní skály A morphologically significant frost cliff is developed in Paleogene quartzose sandstones and conglomerates The cliff is stretches in a north-eastern– Fig Spherical cavities are typical of sandstone outcrops in the area, this one being at Láz (photo K Kirchner) south-western direction and has a south-eastern extension Its length is around 90 m and height up to 10.5 m The cliff is covered by a large number of the typical weathering microforms (especially honeycomb weathering and tafoni with a depth of 0.5 m) Other typical features are represented by weathering pits with maximum diameter of 0.3 m and maximum depth of 0.25 m On the base of the cliff, there are several niches (abri) Other important mesoforms of the site are represented by pseudokarst fissure cave (depth 3.2 m, width 1.6 m, height 1.5 m) and a cryoplanation terrace with blocks of sandstones which documents the cryogenic processes on the site The frost cliff is used by the climbers and hence provides a resource for recreational activities; the sandstones suffer from these activities, however Site 5: Dolní skály A frost cliff (see Fig 4) on the lower part of the slope of Vrátnice hill has a length of 70 m and its height oscillates between and 14 m The cliff was created by cryogenic and gravitational processes; on the south-western part, there is also evidence of the influence of fluvial processes The cliff is exposed to the south-west, it is divided into several blocks by Geoheritage (2016) 8:5–14 11 remarkable mesoforms in the alluvial plain (e.g remnants of oxbow lakes or abandoned meanders) are proof of the natural migration and shift of the river channel in the past This area has a very high educational and scientific value (especially because of the potential for palaeogeographic reconstructions) Results Fig The frost cliff of Dolní skály The rock wall is divided into several blocks by fissures and it is covered by the large number of the typical weathering microforms, especially honeycomb weathering (photo K Kirchner) fissures and it is covered by a large number of the typical weathering microforms (especially honeycomb weathering), some having a character of spherical cavities (or tafoni) with the depth of up to 0.7 m The cavities are arranged along the main fissures and their large number makes this site unique within the area of interest Other unique mesoform is represented by the small gorge (also unique in this area) developed on the south-western part of the site where the frost cliff meets the channel of a mountain creek Both Horní skály (site no 4) and Dolní skály (site no 5) were already visited by scouts and hikers in the 1930s and 1940s Site 6: Senice meanders This site represents fluvial phenomena within the study area and documents an interaction between vertical and lateral channel erosion and river channel migration In the past, the alluvial plains have been affected by human activity, so they are relatively rare today The studied section is approximately 500 m long and the bedrock comprises the Palaeogene Újezd Layers where sandstones and claystones predominate The sections where the mountain river enters into the alluvial plain is especially valuable because it creates the initial bend and then starts to meander and bank erosion and lateral shift of the river channel still operates An important and unique geomorphological feature of this site is dynamic lateral erosion which undercuts the shores and then exposes sediments Regular natural flooding is also typical in this area; this process influences the water regime, soils and ecosystems in the alluvial plain— hence, the site also has a relatively high ecological value Within the site, the results of natural processes and different stages of the development of turns and meanders can be observed Some morphologically The results of the preliminary assessment (Kirchner and Kubalíková 2014) are presented in Table The highest scientific values were reached by the Kopce pseudokarst caves and the Senice meanders due to the presence of features that are rare within the area of interest (Kopce) and due to the presence of actual processes (fluvial erosion at Senice meanders) The highest educational value was reached by the Devil’s rocks due to the existence of educational material and the good visibility and clarity of the geoscience features present The other two sites also evaluated well especially due to the exemplarity of the landform (Senice meanders, a possibility of observing natural fluvial erosion and typical fluvial landforms both in the channel and in the alluvial plain; Kopce typical and well-visible pseudokarst caves) Economical value was the same for all the sites because they are accessible by tourist paths and tourist infrastructure in the area is the same for all the sites as the study area is quite small The conservation value included both legal protection and possible threats to the site Although the site of Devil’s rocks is protected under the law, its score is not so high because of the climbing activities that disturb the site and also because of the larger number of the visitors that damage the outcrop The site of Kopce is protected by law and as there are not so intensive threats, it reached the highest score The relatively high score of the Horní skály and Dolní skály is due to the lower number of the visitors The highest added value was obtained by the Devil’s Rocks in particular due to its geomythological aspect and a high aesthetical value In the Table The results of numerical assessment of the selected sites Name of the site/ group of the values Kopce Devil’s Láz Horní Dolní Senice rocks skály skály meanders Scientific values Educational values Ecomonical values Conservation values Added values Total score 2.75 1.75 2.25 2.25 1.5 1.5 2.5 1.75 1 1 1.5 1.25 1.75 1.75 1.25 9.5 2.5 9.25 6.5 7.25 1.75 8.25 1.5 7.75 12 Geoheritage (2016) 8:5–14 case of the Kopce site, the most important added values were represented by ecological and historical values The highest total score was reached by the sites of Kopce, Devil’s rocks and Senice meanders These sites are not only important from the scientific point of view, but they also have a significant educational potential (Kopce and Senice meanders) and important added values (Kopce and Devil’s rocks) From these examples, it can be seen that sites suitable for geotourism should be not only geologically and geomorphologically valuable, but they should also include some added values to support their selection as potential sites for the development of the geotourism The assessment helped to identify the strong and weak points of the sites, and it facilitated the recognition of the opportunities and threats that could be linked to the sites These aspects are summarised in a SWOT analysis which was carried out for the whole area of interest: – Opportunities – – – – – – Strengths – – – – – – – – – – – – – – A considerable number of various types of landforms (cryogenic, gravitational and fluvial landforms, a large diversity of small weathering forms) Study area is a part of Natural park Vizovické vrchy (a category within the general protection of nature) Legal protection (Natural Monuments) of the sites Kopce and Devil’s Rocks (a category within the territorial protection of nature) High ecological value of some localities (especially Kopce pseudokarst caves) Nature/historical trail Vařákovy paseky goes through study area High cultural, geomythological, archaeological and historical value (remnants of the Bronze Age settlement near the site Kopce, plenty of myths about rock forms) Sandstone rock forms are attractive for climbers (especially Devil’s Rocks) Existing networks of hiking trails All the sites are recorded in a database of geological localities Promotion of some sites in various tourist guides and internet (especially Devil’s Rocks, partly Kopce) High potential for education (especially Senice meanders) Regular scheduled transport (bus, train) The sites are situated within walking distance from the places of tourist infrastructure Weaknesses – – Poor accessibility of some sites: Dolní skály, Horní skály, Senice meanders Legislative protection needed at the site of Senice meanders Intensive climbing activity on Devil’s Rocks damages the small weathering features and leaves traces from ropes Promotion of geoheritage can increase the attractiveness of the territory and bring the possibility of development of surrounding communities, it can partly help the economic development of the area Study area is suitable for school trips (presence of tourist infrastructure in short distance) Suitable terrain for walking Possibility of using the scout camp near Láz for summer recreational activities Scout tradition (from 1930s and 1940s) as a new aspect of promotion of geotourist activities Possibility to suggest the site Senice meanders for legal protection (probably the category of Natural Monument or Natural Reservation) Geoscience path with informative panels that would promote the geoheritage of the area Threats – – – In the case of a greater promotion of the area and due to the resulting increase in attendance there can be a possibility of growing anthropogenic pressure on the sites (especially climbers) Disturbance of important habitats, especially in pseudokarst caves (site Kopce) Lack of interest from the part of the local residents The assessment and the SWOT analysis can serve as a basis for the future proposals of geotouristic use of the sites and similar activities (promotion of the less known sites, giving the information about the geology, geomorphology and added aspects) However, it also depends on local communities (or local stakeholders), if they are open to this idea and, obviously, to the possibility of financing such activities (not only a one-time investment in construction of the geoscience path with informative panels, but also the long-term maintenance) Conclusion The relatively long tradition and currently satisfactory conditions of the protection of the geological and geomorphological heritage in the Czech Republic can be considered as a good starting point for the future geoconservation and geotourism activities The promotion of geoheritage is managed by different organisations and institutions (e.g National Geoparks Network of the Czech Republic, Czech Geological Survey, the administrations of National Parks and Protected Geoheritage (2016) 8:5–14 Landscape Areas, Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic) which also provide a wide spectrum of promotional activities and products related to geomorphological heritage, especially guided walks, excursions and geological educational trails However, in some cases, the promotion of geoheritage, in comparison with the promotion of living nature, is still low—and outside the territorially protected areas (National Parks and Protected Landscape Areas) and geoparks, the promotion of geoheritage is also poor although the geodiversity of selected areas is relatively high Geosites and geomorphosites of less-known areas can serve as a resource for geotourist activities which can support economical development which can help local communities This case study from the Vizovická vrchovina Highland proves that even sites outside of legally protected areas and geoparks are still attractive and suitable for the geotourism development This can be due to the educational value of the site and the presence of a tourist infrastructure (including transport, marked paths and other tourist services) Although it is evident that the selected sites of the study area have a potential for geotourism development, it also depends on the interest of local communities and stakeholders and whether they are willing to seize the opportunities which could bring benefits for the area in the future Acknowledgments The research was supported by long-term conceptual development support of research organisation (Institute of Geonics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, v.v.i.) 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In: Reynard E, Holzmann C, Guex D, Summermatter N (eds) Géomorphologie et tourisme, Actes de la Réunion annuelle de la Société Suisse de Géomorphologie (SSGm) pp 1-10 Reynard E et al (2007) A method for assessing the scientific and additional values of geomorphosites Geogr Helv 62(3):148–158 Serrano E, González Trueba JJ (2005) Assessment of geomorphosites in natural protected areas; the Picos de Europa National Park (Spain) Géomorphol Relief Process Environ 1(3):197–208 Veselý J et al (1954) Ochrana československé přírody a krajiny Díl I Nakladatelství ČSAV, Praha, 356 p 14 Vítek J (2012) Význačné geologické útvary jako předmět zájmu ochrany přírody In: Machar I, Drobilová L (eds) Ochrana přírody a krajiny v České republice – vybrané aktuální problémy a možnosti jejich řešení (the appendix) Univerzita Palackého Olomouc, pp 23-28 Vrška T, Hort L (2008) Historie vzniku lesních rezervací v ČR r 1945 Ochrana přírody 63 (1) Retrieved 29th May 2014 from: http://www casopis.ochranaprirody.cz/clanky/historie-vzniku-lesnich-rezervaciv-cr-do-roku-1945.html View publication stats Geoheritage (2016) 8:5–14 Act No 40/1956 Collection of Laws of the Czechoslovac Republic Act No 114/1992 Collection of Laws of the Czech Republic The Charter of National Geoparks (http://www.geology.cz/ narodnigeoparky/o-siti) The Database of Geological Localities (http://lokality.geology.cz/) The Database of Speleological Objects (http://jeso.nature.cz/) The Directive of the Ministry of Environment No 07/2006 (updated in 2011) ... that was used for geosite and geomorphosite assessment in the study area Some criteria and their assessment are based on Kubalíková (2013) After the assessment of a site, a SWOT analysis of the. .. remarkable mesoforms in the alluvial plain (e.g remnants of oxbow lakes or abandoned meanders) are proof of the natural migration and shift of the river channel in the past This area has a very... relief of highlands and mountain ranges with intervening deep valleys and basins (Demek and Mackovčin 2006) The study area (see Fig 2) forms the north-eastern part of the Vizovická vrchovina Highland
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