The Caminhos dos Cânions do Sul Geopark Project is a strategy that seeks to boost the socio-cultural, environmental and economic sustainable development of the region, and consequently to achieve recognition of this territory as a UNESCO Global Geopark.
Located in the southern region of Brazil, between the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, the territory comprises 7 cities, of which 4 are in the state of Santa Catarina: Praia Grande, Jacinto Machado, Timbé do Sul and Morro Grande; and 3 from Rio Grande do Sul: Torres, Mampituba and Cambará do Sul, totaling an area of 2,830 km² and a population of just over 73,500 inhabitants.
The Caminhos dos Cânions do Sul Geopark project is an initiative that integrates two Brazilian states, whose actions have been mobilizing municipal and state authorities, private institutions and local communities in order to build a solid application for the UNESCO Global Geoparks program.
In April 2017, it was constituted by the 7 municipalities that make up the candidate territory for Geopark, the Inter-municipal Public Consortium Caminhos dos Cânions do Sul. With the purpose of providing the integrated and sustainable development of the territory, the Consortium has been acting since then as an articulator and project manager. It has a technical team coordinated by professionals from the municipal structures, who develop actions in the territory in conjunction with partner institutions and local communities.
The Scientific and Educational Committee of the Caminhos dos Cânions do Sul Geopark project, established in 2012 and established by Resolution No. 001/2018 of the Caminhos dos Cânions do Sul Intermunicipal Consortium, aims to contribute to the scientific and educational knowledge of the project, ensuring that the project is well complied within its guidelines.
The conception of a Geopark project between the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul began to be conceived in 2007. At the time, under the name Project Geopark Canyons of Brazil, the territory involved six municipalities of the region, three of Santa Catarina. and three from Rio Grande do Sul.
With the progress of the process in search of political-financial support and engagement of local managers, as early as 2009, the Geopark project was led by the institutional partnership between the Regional Development Secretariat (SDR / Araranguá) and the Association of Southern Santa Catarina Municipalities. (AMESC). At this time the territory of the Geopark project ends up being expanded to 19 municipalities in the region.
In the years that followed, several project presentation and clarification meetings were held in the region, training and events, follow-up of technical visits, as well as various newspaper and radio reports covering the actions that took place in the territory.
Between 2010 and 2011, studies were conducted to start the inventory of the geosites of the territory by the Geological Survey of Brazil (CPRM), through the Superintendency of Porto Alegre - RS.
The years passed and in 2014, as the project matured, the Geopark area was reduced to the current 7 municipalities, as a way of directing efforts towards a core area. As in 2015, the mayors signed a memorandum of understanding to form the Caminhos dos Cânions do Sul Intermunicipal Consortium.
In April 2017, the process progressed to the official establishment of the Caminhos dos Cânions do Sul Intermunicipal Public Consortium, as the managing institution of the Caminhos dos Cânions do Sul Geopark project formed by the 7 cities that make up the candidate territory.
The Caminhos dos Cânions do Sul Geopark project aims to foster in its territory strategies that involve sustainable socioeconomic and cultural development, seeking to combine conservation, education and tourism.
The Cânions do Sul Geopark project seeks to conserve the geological sites that are most representative of regional diversity, with particular attention to those sites that feature different characteristics in relation to the type of rock and soil, geological structures, mineral varieties, thequality and diversity of the fossils, relief forms or any other aspect that allows us to know, research and interpret the origin and evolution of the Earth and the processes that shape it.
These relevant sites and landscapes of the Cânions do Sul Geopark project territory are part of a geoconservation strategy that favors their sustainable use, whether for scientific research or for educational and tourist activities with minimal impact on the environment.
UNESCO Global Geopark status does not imply restrictions on any economic activity within the project territory, nor does it guarantee the protection of its natural and cultural heritage. For this reason, a geopark must take advantage of the specific legislation of its country to ensure the conservation of this heritage.
Important elements of the geological heritage of the region are already protected in Conservation Units that exist in the territory, with special emphasis given to the canyons located in the National Parks Aparados da Serra and Serra Geral, such as Itaimbezinho, Fortaleza, Malacara, Churriado and Índios Coroados; the dune fields of Itapeva State Park; and Ilha dos Lobos Wildlife Refuge.
The Cânions do Sul Geopark project organizes activities and provides support for communicating geoscientific knowledge and environmental concepts to its audience, be it researchers, students and tourists, or society at large.
These knowledge dissemination actions make use of existing spaces in the territory such as geosites, tourist attractions, museums and memorial houses, information centers, trails, guided tours, school excursions, popular literature, maps, educational materials and exhibitions, interpretative materials, seminars and so on.
In our territory, scientific research and cooperation with universities and research institutes are also encouraged, stimulating dialogue between academia and society, contributing to the renewal of knowledge in the various sectors of the economy, improving people's lives and innovation in order to achieve the goal of sustainable development.
Education actions promote major transformations in geopark territories. Raising society's awareness of the recognition and appreciation of the importance of conserving nature and culture favors the mobilization of actors interested in making tourism a catalyst for positive change for the region.
Brazil has a huge potential for nature tourism, proving its importance as one of the vectors for the economic development of the country. Accordingly, nature tourism segment is growing exponentially, surpassing the growth of other forms of tourism worldwide.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, nature tourism uses the natural and cultural heritage in a sustainable way, encourages its conservation and seeks the formation of an environmental awareness through the interpretation of the environment, promoting the well-being of populations. It is characterized by contact with natural environments, by performing activities that can provide the experience and knowledge of nature, in order to protect the areas where it occurs.
In recent decades, a new segment has emerged as a branch of nature tourism: geotourism. It consists of providing services and interpretative means that promote the value and social benefit of geological and geomorphological sites of interest, while ensuring their conservation for student and tourist use (Hose, 2000). This concept has a strong relationship with the geoparks, as it seeks to stimulate in these territories economic activities supported by the geodiversity of the region, mainly of a tourist nature, in synergy with the potential of the biodiversity, culture and involving local communities.
By attracting a growing number of visitors, geoparks stimulate local socio-economic development and encourage the creation of local businesses and craft industries involved in tourism-related production.
The territory of the Cânions do Sul Geopark project has great potential for nature lovers and sports activities, especially those that are directly linked to the natural heritage, such as nature walks, canyoning, rappelling, rock climbing, waterfalls and swimming pools, natural activities, hang gliding, ballooning, cycle tourism, etc., providing tourists with unforgettable experiences. On the coast there is also summer and sea tourism, with options for surfing, kite surfing, canoeing, jet skiing, rappelling, climbing, paragliding, among others.
Rural tourism is also beginning to establish its bases in the region, being a new opportunity to experience this territory, adding value to products and services, promoting the cultural and natural heritage of the communities that live there.
Geotourism, in turn, begins this journey… What would you think of visiting paleoburrows?