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Geotopes and their worthiness of protection

Geotopes in Brandenburg - by Rainer Schulz

1. introduction

During the last years the protection of Geotopes became more relevant among geological experts and in public. In Germany geologically important creations of nature but also larger areas with special geological importance have been placed under a preservation order as natural monument or ground monument by private or official initiatives since the beginning of the 20th century. However, all these measures were made without fundamental and systematic geoscientific recordings and validations. For a balanced protection of geological natural monuments/ Geotopes with nationwide uniform criteria the working group Geotopschutz (Geotope Protection) of the Geologischen Landesämter (State Offices for Geology) of Germany published a guideline „Arbeitsanleitung Geotopschutz in Deutschland – Leitfaden der Geologischen Dienste der Länder der Bundesrepublik Deutschland“ ("instruction sheet Geotope Protection in Germany - guideline for geological services of the states of the Federal Republic of Germany") in 1996 (Ad-Hoc Working Group , 1996). Diversity, uniqueness and beauty of the diverse landscapes are an inseparable part of the geological natural monuments/ Geotopes. A Geotope is - analogue to a Biotope - a place where not currently living nature, but development, structure and characteristics of the earth have special significance. If the Geotope shall be preserved it has to be protected.

2. definitions and explanations
The ad-hoc working group defined the following terms in 1996:
- Geotopes are geological formations of inanimate nature that impart knowledge about the evolution of the earth or of life. They include individual creations of nature and natural landscape elements as well as outcrops of rocks, soil, minerals and fossils.
- Worth of protection are those Geotopes who distinguish themselves by their special geological significance, rarity, uniqueness, shape or beauty. For science, education and natural and local history they are documents of particular value.
- Geotopschutz (Protection of Geotopes) is this part of nature conservation, which deals with the preservation and conservation of Geotopes. The official tasks are realized by the geological services of the federal states.

Examples for Geotopes are:

  • Geotope landscapes - present geological and geomorphological sites (Choriner und Joachimsthaler Landschaft (landscape of Chorin and Joachimsthal), our core area)
  • glacial and periglacial formations (drumlins, eskers, grooves, kettle lakes and dunes)
  • boulders (85 mapped in the Uckermark and 35 mapped in Barnim)
  • fluviatile formation(e.g. Nonnenfließ)
  • aeolian formations = inland dunes (e.g. parabolic dunes in the Schorfheide)
  • hydrological features (e.g. salt springs in the Uckermark)
  • bogs (fens, spring fen, valley bog)
  • geological outcrops (terminal moraine outcrop Sperlingsherberge, Rupelian clay pit near Falkenberg, varved clay near Marcherslust, gravel pits in the outwash plains of Groß-Ziethen and Milmersdorf)

Unlike many Biotopes are once destroyed Geotopes not reclaimable and irretrievable lost. Often, existing Geotopes are at the same time valuable Biotopes resp. their precondition without this relationship is recognized or appreciated (e.g. dunes, kettle lakes, subglacial grooves, groundwater withdrawals).

The selection of geological objects worth protecting in this by geological formations and processes of the Quaternary formed landscape of Brandenburg is subject to special conditions. Since the majority of geological outcrops include loose rocks, whose preservation is only possible with high effort, foremost great importance is attached to geomorphological objects and boulders. Of the numerous loose rocks outcrops only some with a particularly high scientific importance can be protected.

In his master's thesis "GIS- gestützte Bewertung von Geotopen zur geotouristischen Nutzung" ("GIS-based evaluation of geotopes for touristic use") Robert Arens presents a list of Geotopes according to their types for the area of the Geopark. In his final thesis Mr. Arens gives some examples of individual validation of Geotopes.

















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