Katla Geopark was visited in June by two groups
Katla Geopark was visited in June by two groups, one from the Ruritage project and one from the Building Bridges project. Knowledge was facilitated through a learning visit related to the resilience theme in the Ruritage project, where Katla Geopark is defined as a role model due to its close vicinity to natural hazards and how rural development in the area has succeeded despite of the threat natural hazards constantly pose to its inhabitants. Therefore, various sites, institutions and discussions related to geohazards, and disaster risk reduction and mitigation, were explored by the visitors. The aim of the Building bridges project, with members of Estrela Geopark in Portugal and GeaNorvegica in Norway, also concerns knowledge facilitation, in this case regarding methodology of sustainable development of the Geopark, so it was great to be able to combine both groups and communicate best practices and know-hows regarding one of Katla Geopark´s main topics – natural hazards.
From the Ruritage project there were representatives from UNESCO, the University of Bologna and the Municipality of Appignano del Tronto in Italy. The goal of the visit was to see what has been done in Katla during the project as well as to introduce the representatives from Appignano del Tronto to the Icelandic Civil Protection System, the surveillance of natural hazards and the resilience of the people towards them. From the Building Bridges there were two representatives from the Estrela UNESCO Global Geopark in Portugal, but Gea Norvegica UNESCO Global Geopark in Norway is also a participant in the project. The aim of the visit was to see how Katla Geopark operates, and then later this year representatives from Katla will visit Estrela Geopark and learn from them. The visit lasted from the 20th-26th of June and went very well. During the visit many places and geosites within both Katla and Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geoparks were visited, and several people gave presentations about subject matters related to the two projects. Elísabet Pálmadóttir, geohazard specialist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office gave a presentation about geohazards in Iceland and Katla Geopark and how the Met Office monitors hazards, she also gave a short introduction about Icelandic SAR, which are active responders to threats related to natural hazards and of which she is a member of. Daníel Einarsson and Þuríður Halldóra Aradóttir Braun from Reykjanes Geopark gave a presentation about to the recent volcanic eruption in Reykjanes and how the geopark was involved with the response to the eruption. Sólveig Þorvaldsdóttir, specialist on behalf of University of Iceland’s Earthquake Engineering Research Centre, gave a presentation about the Civil Protection System in Iceland. Bárður Örn Gunnarsson, manager of Lava Centre, gave us a presentation about the Centre and how it is run and Jorge Montalvo, geologist at Lava Centre, gave us an introduction to the exhibition in Lava Centre, which is about Iceland’s geology and seismic activity. Andri Guðmundsson, the director of Skogar Folk Museum, introduced us to the museum and Eva Björk Harðardóttir, manager of Hotel Laki, introduced us to the Bjarnargarður Geosite and the tephra layers that are visible there. Ragnheiður Gló Gylfadóttir, archaeologist at the Institute of Archaeology, gave a presentation about a new research project studying the effects of the 1918 eruption of Katla on farms and Harpa Elín Haraldsdóttir, director of Katla Centre, gave a presentation about the Centre and its role. Berglind Sigmundsdóttir, manager of Katla Geopark, gave a presentation about the Geopark and Jóhannes M. Jóhannesson, project manager of Katla Geopark, gave a presentation about the Víkurfjara beach project and Geo-schools. Sara Helena Moreira dos Santos and Magda Sofia Ferreira Fernandes from Estrela Geopark gave presentations about the Geopark itself and about education and geoheritage related to the Building Bridges Project. Finally, Fanney Ásgeirsdóttir, Park manager at Vatnajökull National Park, and Jóna Björk Jónsdóttir, Assistant Park manager at Vatnajökull National Park, gave presentation about the National Park and its soon to be opened new visitor centre. The Geopark would like to thank everyone that was involved in the visit and photos from the visit can be seen here.