A Proposed Geoheritage Inventory System: Case Study of Isalo National Park, Madagascar


Geological heritage inventory procedures and templates have been principally emerged from European countries. Each of these countries has developed its proper method of inventory based on its natural heritage, recognized on local and/or regional scales. Natural sites were mainly identified and characterized in a particular geological context, which is usually very unique, valuable and impressive; resulting in the protection of the sites. Madagascar is known internationally as a beautifully landscaped island, but the impressive sites were not cataloged. We carried out a series of field inventory of potential geological sites within the Isalo National Park in southern Madagascar. We invented several inventory sheets in order to record the most detailed information about the sites identified within the park. This is to aid in organizing the park and to establish a sustainable base for the creation of a geopark, and also they help us to build a database for geosites and their classifications. This article suggests a prototype model for inventorying intangible geosites, paleosites and geomorphosites. Our inventory sheets help to identify and to promote geological importance of any sites, not only for academia but also for other sectors such as tourism and conservation.

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Randrianaly, H. , Di Cencio, A. , Rajaonarivo, A. and Raharimahefa, T. (2016) A Proposed Geoheritage Inventory System: Case Study of Isalo National Park, Madagascar. Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection, 4, 163-172. doi: 10.4236/gep.2016.45016.

Received 22 February 2016; accepted 22 May 2016; published 25 May 2016

1. Introduction

During the last decade, the concepts of sustainable development and ecotourism have expanded globally and have become as the most important parts of the geoconservation and valorization of geoheritage [1] - [4] .

In Madagascar or in any other African countries, conservation is primarily focused on rare and endangered species and is used to draw the attention of national and international communities on the issue of conservation sites [10] - [12] while expressions of interest on the valorization of geological interest in socio-economic and tourism related sectors are limited or non-existent, which limits the scope of implementation efforts [5] , [13] and [14] . Accordingly, the aim of this paper is to establish a prototype sheets for inventory of geoheritage appropriately adapted not only for Madagascar but also for other developing countries. Despite the existence of different types of inventory sheets [15] - [22] , there has been only limited and a few inventory sheets that can be used directly for Madagascar`s geosites, hence a new compiled inventory ones are made to overcome the issues.

2. Methodology

2.1. Typology of Geological Sites for Inventory: Geosites/Geomorphosites/Paleosites

Considering the designation of the geological sites proposed in many geologic and geographic literatures (Wimbledon et al., 2000 [15] , Reynard et al., 2007 [16] , Iosif, 2014 [23] , Giusti & Calvet, 2010 [24] and Golonka et al. 2014 [25] ) and the main works of Ielenicz, 2009 [26] and Lugeri et al. [27] , which distinguished the geotope/ geosite to the geomorphosite in order to classify the tourist value of the site; Table 1 was established as a classification flow of geological features adopted in this present work. This classification is more flexible and easy to use in the field; in addition it can be used for complex geosites not only the rare geosites but also geosites with noticeable changes over a short-time period.

2.2. Proposal Prototype Sheets of Geosites/Geomorphosites/Paleosites Inventories of Madagascar

The inventory of geosites, paleosites and geomorphosites are crucial and very important for the purpose of integrative regional development ( [7] [28] - [30] ).

This work focuses on Isalo National Park, a park that is already protected. The preliminary approach to the implementation process of geoconservation shows without any doubts the abundance of natural heritage within the park, particularly the geosites [14] .

Taking into account all relevant bibliographical revision which aim to recognition of every possible geosite inventories, the methodology of this paper is based on different approaches suggested by many researchers ( [16] - [22] , the Italian Superior Institute Superior for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA: “Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale”) and Madageoheritage. Accordingly, Madageoheritage has

Table 1. Typology of geological sites used in inventory sheets.

proposed the prototype sheets of geosites/geomorphosites/paleosites inventories of Madagascar [5] . Because of many similarities between geosites found in Madagascar and abroad the inventory sheets were inspired from the descriptive sheets of ISPRA and were modified to fit the Malagasy geosites (recording more detailed characteristics and focusing more on the rarity and complexity of Malagasy geosites).The sheets were also designed for both previously known and unknown (potential) geosites and will be used by the Madagascar National Parks (MNP) at Isalo National Park [31] . The inventory sheets can assess the distribution of geological sites within the national parks and they can be used to categorize the sites according to their scientific and touristic values. Geosites of scientific importance can be valued as educational sites and those with tourism value can be used to promote geotourism; both will help to reduce local poverty.

2.3. Description of Inventory Sheets

The sheets were constructed using Canevas 12 software and were designed to be used in the field (Figure 1) and to be converted into a digital format (Figures 5-7) for the compilation of digital database.

Inventory sheet number one

Figure 2 shows all information and criteria used in the inventory sheets followed by explanation in order to compile the general data on the geological site:

Ÿ Information of the protected area and the geological site: property, toponym, location coordinates; identification code and the compiler.

Ÿ Detailed graphic presentation of the geological site: picture and geological map.

Ÿ Scientific interest which generate the assessment, contextual interests and scientific interest degree.

Ÿ Compiler: name of the compiler or symbol of the institution (university; association, NGO...) (e.g. Madageoheritage).

Figure 1. Model of inventory sheet “number three” filled during the fieldwork in Isalo Park.

Figure 2. Prototype detailed of inventory sheet “number one”.

Inventory sheet number two (Figure 3)

The sheet is divided mainly into two parts, except the header, which is the same for all cards.

Ÿ On one side, the description of morphogenesis of the site. Under this strand are defined geological values of the site: general and genetic description, lithology and morphogenesis.

Ÿ On the other side are all of the characteristics of the site: typology (single or combination of elements); Structure of the area (e.g. punctual, panoramic); originality; the position of the site (in surface or submerged); accessibility (on foot, vehicle, bike or other): degree of accessibility (easy, hard, inaccessible) and season suggested for the visit.

Inventory sheet number three

Figure 4 represents the inventory sheet number 3 and is designed to collect any other secondary information of the site:

2.4. Inventory Process

As parts of the process of geoconservation and protection of potential geosites, details description of sites are required and maximum amount of information are needed [27] , therefore the inventory procedure progressively followed the following steps:

- Data acquisition and collection, in which the methodology approach of the study were compiled with most of the data collected during site fieldworks.

- Data compilation using spatial data analysis (GIS) based on geological, geomorphological, geodiversity and biodiversity. This provides more scientific and touristic details about the sites and improves the geological map of Isalo National Park. This step usually starts with the scanning of filled sheets from the field.

- Inventorying geotopes according to their code, and that will be included in a Madagascar database (e.g. geotopes database of national parks).

Final compilation: this database compiled by a software will be hosted in a plat-form.

Figure 3. Prototype detailed of inventory sheet “number two”.

Figure 4. Prototype detailed of inventory sheet “number three”.

3. Results and Discussion: Why Geosites/Geomorphosites/Paleosites Should Be Classified of on the Basis of Tourist Value?

Madagascar’s economy relies heavily on tourism. In fact all National parks in Madagascar are designed to attract tourism both international and local tourists. That is the reason why geoheritage inventory takes an important place by valuing tourism

Geoheritage inventory system existed [15] , [17] and [22] , however they cannot be directly adopted to the Madagascar`s geosites, either the inventory sheets were designed to cover a regional scale or they are lacking in detail. Besides, geosites found in Isalo National Parks and in other parks in Madagascar are so specific and unusual, which require more detail inventory sheets that can be flexible and easy to change.

3.1. Identification and Inventory of Sites: Simulation Process in Isalo Park

According to all information gathered in each inventory sheet, the identification and inventory, add more details explanation and understanding of the potential geosite/paleosite/geomorphosite. Figures 5-7 are examples of completed sheets. The application of this inventory procedure is advantageous for Isalo park because the park is a protected area which hides numerous geological objects that can be seen on several angles as a touristic attractive object, recreational and educational. The main goal is that these should become more easier understood by the general public.

3.2. Potential Benefits of Using Geosite Cards

The proposed inventory sheets here may be used both as a check list (Figure 1) and as a database (Figures 5-7).

Figure 5. Digitalizing format of an inventory sheet “number one” of the geosites called “Crâne de L’Isalo”.

Figure 6. Digitalizing format of an inventory sheet “number two” of the geosites called “Crâne de L’Isalo”.

Figure 7. Digitalizing format of an inventory sheet “number three” of the geosites called “Crâne de L’Isalo”.

As check list, the inventory sheets could be used directly on the field in order to describe and formalize a site as a geo- and/or paleo-site. The sheets allow us to classify every geographic, geological, geomorphological information on a site. Also, these allow us to collect information such as accessibility and point of interest.

In contrast to the ISPRA format, our inventory sheets included a section to record any previous histories, myths and legends about the geosites. Randrianaly et al. 2015 ( [5] ), explains the importance of stories about geological and paleontological features. Knowing the histories, the myths or legends about the geosites helped the compiler during his or her approach with the native and the locals. To attract visitor (scientists or tourists) these historical values can be included in the geosite database and could be published in museums, libraries and even on the park websites.

As an example, one geosite located in the East of the park is illustrated in the Figure 6.

3.3. The Importance of Inventorying

According these inventory sheets, we strongly affirm that inventory and evaluation of the geoheritage are the best way to tackle and to overcome the challenge associated with the implementation of the geoconservation in Madagascar. The completion of the inventory of geosites within the Isalo Park shows that geosites values are based in four criteria (Figure 8) [5] .

-The inventory of each geosite promotes its scientific values (rarity, integrity and diversity) [16] .

-The inventory data brings additional explanation of the geology for scientists and promote local and international tourism, and attract visitor [32] .

-Geosites could be used as additional esthetic, ecological and cultural values ( [33] and [34] ). For example, the deep canyon with evergreen forest in Isalo National Park is considered as a natural beauty because of the landscape and also known as a sacred/holy site.

-The potentialities of the sites highlighted the geotourism, a sustainable strategy towards the ecotourism for Madagascar, which may help to reduce poverty and may improve and create a more sustainable development.

Figure 8. Synthesis graph of geosites values relevant to the current issues to Madagascar (Randrianaly et al. 2015).

These results showed that inventorying geosites are not only restricted to scientific researches but also help to promote the educational, socio cultural, ecological values of the park.

4. Conclusions


Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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