Towards a climate neutral EU:
efficient allocation of EU funds

Valorisation of geo-heritage for sustainable and innovative tourism development of the Haţeg UNESCO Global Geopark (part of Danube Geoparks)

Organisation: Focus Eco Center Website: Added: April 12, 2022
Project start date: April 01, 2020
Project end date: April 20, 2022


The Haţeg UNESCO Global Geopark, managed by the University of Bucharest, is the only UNESCO-recognised geopark in Romania. The park was jointly developed along with eight european geoparks under the collective name of 'Danube Geoparks', and the effort was financed through the Interreg Danube Transnational Programme (2014–2020). The main goal was to improve the strategic and managerial capacity for a growing market of sustainable touristic use of the geoheritage site. The area around Haţeg, called 'Haţeg Country' or the 'Country of Haţeg', has a rich store of important and geologically diverse sites, including glacially carved mountains of rock that is 600-million years old and, most importantly, several fossil sites of international value from which a total of seven new dwarf dinosaurs have been discovered. The fossils are remnants of an endemic island ecosystem from the Cretaceous Period.

Based on received background information, the local administrators conceived of a branding and implementation strategy through which to develop the park. The strategy provides a mechanism for specific target groups (visitors, residents, geopark managers and investors) to better plan their activities within a holistic concept of protection, education, public awareness and socio-economic benefits for sustainable local development. A key concept of this is the use of the 'geoproduct' term that is, a product that presents the characteristics of the geopark on the market and complying with principles of conservation of the geological and natural heritage, while providing an economic opportunity for local residents and businesses.

Four different groups of geoproducts were distinguished:

  1. Market objects (souvenirs, food),
  2. Outdoor activities (guided tours, sport activities, camps etc.),
  3. Indoor activities (museums, info centres, restaurants etc.), and
  4. Small interpretation infrastructure dedicated to specific heritage items (Geohouses, Dinostops, Geotrails).

This strategic approach led to improved conservation of the fossil sites, the boosting of local enterprises, and a growth in visitor numbers (25,050 visitors in 2021).

Financial data

Total funding: EUR 1,666,362.50

ERDF: EUR 1,328,063.36 (79.7%)

IPA: EUR 88,344.75 (5.3%).


This exemplary project demonstrates that the scientific research of climate change can be combined with the educational and tourism activities. As far Romania is rich in such sites, it is recommended that the learnings of this project be used on other sites as well. In the site of this project can be studied the effects of climate change from the period of the dinosaurs, on the landscape, on the flora and on the fauna in an innovative way: each geoproduct, be it tangible or intangible, is unique in its construction and methodology. For example, a series of 'houses' was made to present the different themes: House of Dwarf Dinosaurs, House of the Geopark, House of Volcanoes, House of Traditions, House of Science and Art. In these
houses, gamification tools were used to explain complex notions and to promote learning through play. 'DinoStops', another creation, are an innovative concept of geoproduct where an artistic reconstruction of a unique dinosaur species from Hațeg is displayed in a commercial or touristic facility. The visitors can learn about the interdependence and the fragility of the ecological systems during the different geohistorical periods with different climates, and can understand why it is so important to pay attention to the conservation of the climate of our days
Another recommendation is to pay attention to the efficiency of working on the same goal in a partnership. In this case, the University of Bucharest, the park administrator, was just one of the participating members of a team from eight geoparks in Central Europe, commonly forming the 'Danube Geoparks' network and brand. All of the strategies, evaluations and end results were made together based on a common workflow, thus enhancing the range and quality of knowledge and reativity.
A conclusion can be: pay attention to the diversification of the tourism products, and in this way will be encouraged the longer visits avoiding the travel of the tourists to other places using fuel for travels. Many visitors have left positive reviews related to the fact that the geopark has a very diverse selection of products: indoor and outdoor, tangible and intangible, fun or education-oriented. In other words, there is something for everyone.

Information sources

Geoparcul International UNESCO Tara Hateguluiube-geotour/outputs

Other info

European Climate Initiative (EUKI)
This project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI). EUKI is a project financing instrument by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). The EUKI competition for project ideas is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is the overarching goal of the EUKI to foster climate cooperation within the European Union (EU) in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.