The project

The Action entitled "Recording and presentation of Geotopes & Geotrails of Kefalonia - Ithaca Geopark with the aim to be designated in UNESCO Geoparks Network" has been included in the Operational Program "Ionian Islands, 2014-2020" (Priority Axis 2 - "Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development") and is co-financed at 80% by the European Regional Development Fund and 20% by national resources.

Total Budget of the Action is 326.000,00 €.

The Action is implemented by two partners, the Management Body of Aenos National Park as the Beneficiary of the Action and the University of Patras; the Action is structured into two (2) separate Subprojects. The first one entitled "Recording, Promotion & Development of Kefalonia - Ithaca Geopark" will be implemented by the Management Body of Aenos National Park, and consists of the following work packages (WP):

WP1: Promotion of educational/information actions for environmental awareness of the Geopark.

WP2: Actions for the promotion, support and enhancement of Ecotourism, to strengthen local economy employment and sustainable development.

WP3: Organization of events related to ecotourism sector and related topics.

WP4: Production of Advertising material of Kefalonia-Ithaca Geopark.

The second Subproject will be implemented by the University of Patras, entitled "Recording and study of Geodiversity & Biodiversity of Kefalonia - Ithaca Geopark" and consists of a work package entitled:

WP 1: Mapping, description and interpretation of all geological & biological parameters for the localization of Geotopes and Geopaths of Kefalonia – Ithaca.

The aim of this Action is the designation of Kefalonia-Ithaca Geopark in the European and Global Network of UNESCO Geoparks. In order to achieve this goal, an area should include sites of geological interest of international value, have a strong and effective management body, significant recognition, function fully as a Global Geopark for at least one year, as well as cooperate and participate in networks with relevant bodies, organizations and other geoparks. UNESCO Global Geoparks are created through a process involving all relevant local and regional stakeholders and authorities in the area (eg. landowners, community groups, tourism providers, local people and organizations).

In 2016, the Management Body of Aenos National Park has been appointed to be the manager of the Geopark to cooperate with local authorities, productive Agencies, professionals and individual citizens of Kephalonia and Ithaca islands. The Management Body has signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Region of the Ionian Islands and the Municipalities of Argostoli, Lixouri, Sami and Ithaca; memoranda of cooperation have been also signed with the Hoteliers Association, the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Kefalonia and Ithaca etc.

Kefalonia and Ithaca Ionian islands may be considered as appropriate candidates for the designation of the Geopark in UNESCO Global Geoparks Network, due to islands rare beauty, with landscape alternation patterns, natural wealth, very interesting geological formations combined with a rich history and culture. For this reason, islands fulfill the requirements, conditions and criteria in order to achieve the final goal of the Action, namely the designation of Kefalonia and Ithaca Geopark in UNESCO Global Geoparks Network. Making already part of the most attractive touristic destinations, the implementation of the Action will be the trigger for the protection, promotion and preservation of the natural environment, cultural heritage, as well as sustainable local development through geotourism and other forms of alternative tourism.

The partners

The Management Body of Aenos National Park with its headquarters in Argostoli, Kefallinia is a Legal Entity of Private Law of public benefit, established by Laws No 4519/2018 and 2742/1999 (article 15, par. 10, case 15) in order to protect and manage Kefalonia and Ithaca areas of Natura 2000 Network. The Body is directed by the Ministry of Environment & Energy and supervised by a 7-member Board of Directors, appointing Dr Georgios Drakatos as the Chairman; members of the Board of Directors are representatives of the central administration (Ministries), local Authorities of all levels (Region, Municipality), productive Agencies, non-profit environmental organizations and the scientific community.

The University of Patras is a public academic institution in Greece, with its headquarters in Patras (Rio) in the Region of Achaia. It was founded in 1964 and today is one of the largest universities in the country. It comprises eight faculties with thirty-seven academic departments. The University of Patras is internationally recognized for the quality of its research and teaching.