ICG2022-586, updated on 20 Jun 2022
10th International Conference on Geomorphology
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The Geological Heritage of Estrela Geopark and the development of a Geotourism strategy: challenges and opportunities

Patrícia Azevedo1, Emanuel de Castro1,2, Fábio Loureiro1, and Magda Fernandes1
Patrícia Azevedo et al.
  • 1Associação Geopark Estrela, Portugal (info@geoparkestrela.pt)
  • 2Centro de Estudos de Geografia e Ordenamento do Território (CEGOT), Coimbra, Portugal

With more than 2,200 km2, the Estrela UNESCO Global Geopark is structured around the Estrela mountain range, the highest mountain in mainland Portugal with 1993m above sea level, conferring identity and territorial cohesion to the nine municipalities which make up the territory. The geopark extends from the SW, on the border with the Açor mountain, to the NE contact with the Meseta surface, also including the piedmont regions to the NW and SE, and where for millennia its communities have lived in an intimate relationship with the mountain. The basis for this classification as a UNESCO Global Geopark is the remarkable geological heritage of this mountain, reflected in its 145 sites of geological interest, with its main originality being the landforms left by the last glaciation, which shaped the landscape of Serra da Estrela and originated geosites with high educational and scenic values, but also remarkable scientific value when considering its geographical position on the SW of Europe. In fact, the heritage of this mountain is an important tool for the development of territorial development strategies aimed towards the local community.

In a UNESCO Global Geopark, one of those strategies is invariably Geotourism, which works as a tool for disseminating knowledge about the territory and its heritage, promoting simultaneously the creation of wealth and new opportunities for the region. Regarding Estrela, its classification as a UNESCO Global Geopark contributed to the emergence of new tourist approaches in the territory, namely through Geotourism, which has allowed a greater involvement of the communities and different tourism agents, working together towards the valorisation of the endogenous products, contributing for the activation of new touristic products, linked with geodiversity, biodiversity and culture, and its scientific, educational and touristic values. Although Geotourism can be developed, with all its advantages, in all the territories which contain a remarkable Geological Heritage, the concept of Geotourism gains greater expression when it is associated with the UNESCO Global Geoparks, since through their networking and initiatives, they give a strong contribution to the territorial development of regions with greater economic and demographic issues. However, there are also some challenges, mainly the lack of knowledge about the concept of Geotourism. Although this subject is already worked on, there are still many people that don't know what this is, which leads to a clear lack of knowledge about what the future of the territory should be, particularly in regards to Serra da Estrela.

In view of the above, we can state that Geotourism is much more than a tourist product.  Due to its relevance for territories, it represents a true tourist strategy, anchored not in a limited vision that only encompasses geology, but on using the geological heritage to promote the touristic valorisation of the endogenous resources.

How to cite: Azevedo, P., de Castro, E., Loureiro, F., and Fernandes, M.: The Geological Heritage of Estrela Geopark and the development of a Geotourism strategy: challenges and opportunities, 10th International Conference on Geomorphology, Coimbra, Portugal, 12–16 Sep 2022, ICG2022-586, https://doi.org/10.5194/icg2022-586, 2022.