“Home of the oldest saurians in Austria”

©Rüdi Homberger

Celebrating Earth Heritage

The Carnic Alps UNESCO Global Geopark covers an area of 830 km2 on both sides of the Gail Valley in southern Austria. It is a mountainous area with altitudes up to almost 2800 m. It comprises the Carnic Alps, the Gailtal Alps and the southern parts of the Lienz Dolomites. Since the beginning of the 19th century this region has attracted Earth scientists from all over the world. The Carnic Alps represent an outstanding combination of internationally significant geological and geomorphological features within a largely unspoiled nature of great beauty. Its geology spanning the interval from the Ordovician to the Triassic Periods, reflects approx. 250 million years of the Earth's history, including a number of internationally important time-markers, reference sections and fossil localities. The geology of the geopark is strongly related to the formation of the Alps, when the African plate, including the microplates of the Adriatic province, collided with the Eurasian plate. During the Ice Ages, the entire territory was dominated by glaciers, which have shaped the landscape substantially. The “Eiskar”, Austria’s southernmost glacier, is also situated in the geopark.

The property also offers a large range of outstanding landscape features. The natural treasures not only comprise rock formations containing up to 500 million years old marine and terrestrial fossils but also numerous natural monuments like several hundred-meter-high vertical limestone cliffs, quiet mountain lakes, mystical canyons and spectacular waterfalls.

©Gerlinde Ortner

Sustaining local Communities

The UNESCO Global Geopark is administered by a Visitor and Information Center in the village of Dellach in the Gail Valley. In the Information Center the visitor receives further advice about ongoing and planned activities in the UNESCO Global Geopark, is informed about the geological heritage and hiking trails, can admire spectacular fossil presentations and can surf through a series of interactive animations and videos about the history of the Earth and the region. Beside 6 geotrails some 80 geological sites (geotopes) reflect the rich geodiversity of the outstanding heritage of the Carnic Alps UNESCO Global Geopark. Access descriptions and geological information for each geotope can be downloaded from the homepage of the UNESCO Global Geopark website.

Fostering a sustainable tourism development and raising awareness for the nature in general and geosciences in particular through education of the general public are the main goals of activities of the Carnic Alps UNESCO Global Geopark.

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