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Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3596; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103596

Comparing Methods of Evaluation of Geosites: The Fossiliferous Outcrops of Santa Maria Island (Azores, NE Atlantic) as a Case Study for Sustainable Island Tourism

1
CIBIO—Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, InBIO Laboratório Associado, Pólo dos Açores, 9500-321 Açores, Portugal
2
Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade dos Açores, Campus de Ponta Delgada, Apartado 1422, 9501-801 Ponta Delgada, Açores, Portugal
3
MPB—Marine PalaeoBiogeography Working Group of the University of the Azores, 9500-321 Rua Mãe de Deus, Portugal
4
Departamento de Geologia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Apartado, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
5
Instituto Dom Luiz, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
6
Parque Natural de Santa Maria, Serviço de Ambiente da Ilha Santa Maria, Rua Dr. Teófilo Braga nº 10/12/14, 9580-535 Vila do Porto, Portugal
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Centro de Interpretação Ambiental Dalberto Pombo, Rua Teófilo Braga, nº 10/12/14, 9580-535 Vila do Porto, Portugal
8
Department of Geosciences, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267, USA
9
Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto, Rua do Campo Alegre 1021/1055, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 September 2018 / Revised: 1 October 2018 / Accepted: 8 October 2018 / Published: 9 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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Abstract

The increasing interest in geotourism has prompted the need for quantitative assessments of geosites as a fundamental step in the application of geoconservation strategies, in order to assure sustainable planning, management and use of natural resources. The improvement of methodologies used to evaluate geosites dictates the revision of previous assessments on a regular basis. Santa Maria Island in the Azores Archipelago is renowned for its palaeontological heritage. Herein, we present the results of a re-evaluation of 17 fossiliferous geosites, based on an updated methodology in which four main independent criteria are considered: (1) scientific value; (2) educational value; (3) touristic value; and (4) degradation risk. These new results were compared with a previous evaluation of the same geosites, based on the Q-value. Our results show that an evaluation of the fossiliferous geosites based on independent criteria is more suitable, especially for political and economic stakeholders. The study of these geosites also permitted the development of high-quality promotional products for the Regional Government of the Azores, as in the case of the “House of the Fossils” museum, the “Fossils Route” and the newly formed “Santa Maria PalaeoPark,” making this island a good example of a successful joint venture between science, political decision-makers, geoconservation management strategies, sustainable tourism and education. View Full-Text
Keywords: Santa Maria Island; Azores; geoconservation; assessment; geosites; management strategies; sustainable tourism; education Santa Maria Island; Azores; geoconservation; assessment; geosites; management strategies; sustainable tourism; education
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Raposo, V.B.; Melo, C.S.; Silva, L.; Ventura, A.; Câmara, R.; Pombo, J.; Johnson, M.E.; Ávila, S.P. Comparing Methods of Evaluation of Geosites: The Fossiliferous Outcrops of Santa Maria Island (Azores, NE Atlantic) as a Case Study for Sustainable Island Tourism. Sustainability 2018, 10, 3596.

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