Geodiversity mapping of the Bakony–Balaton UNESCO Global Geopark, Hungary
Keywords: geodiversity, GIS analysis, visualization, geosciences
Abstract. Geodiversity is the natural range of elements in the physical environment. The relationships, properties, and systems of geoscientific features have an impact not only on the natural world but also on cultural and societal aspects of life. Geodiversity can be considered as a quantitative variable that is unevenly distributed all over the world. This spatial variability helps to locate areas with a high degree of geodiversity. These areas can be the basis of further nature protection and geotourism purposes: high geodiversity usually means higher scientific/cultural/ecological values in an area. We present a GIS-based workflow in which we collect, evaluate, and visualize geoscientific variables to provide information on the geodiversity of the Bakony–Balaton UNESCO Global Geopark in Hungary. By using mainly freely accessible data and an open-source GIS environment, we aim to develop a method that can be applied in many areas of the world. The evaluation is built up by the determination of five sub-indices per unit area, which are related to the elements of geodiversity: geology, relief, hydrology, soil, palaeontology, and mineralogy. The geodiversity index is the sum of the sub-indices. The current tourism potential is mainly found in the high geodiversity regions: the Balaton Uplands, the Tapolca Basin, the Káli Basin, and the Bakony Mountains. The results show that the current geopark infrastructure is in accordance with the geodiversity, but it took several years to reach this state. However, new geoparks are established every year and their infrastructure is yet to be planned. The method we apply helps in this process by using open-source data in the assessment and provides a workflow in areas that have not been evaluated before.