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Geotopes are natural geoscientific monuments worthy of protection: spatially constrained parts of the geosphere of geological, geomorphological or geo-ecological importance. Depending on whether the formative processes are complete or still in progress, they are then static or active geotopes.

The Glarus thrust of the Tectonic Arena Sardona
The Glarus thrust is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Tectonic Arena Sardona".
© IG Tektonikarena Sardona; Foto: Ruedi Homberger, Arosa

Geological geotopes are our windows to prehistoric times: they tell us about the development of the landscape, climate and life, of the creation and decay of the mountains and of the origin of the rocks. Other geotopes shed light on processes occurring at the surface or within the Earth, which because of their slowness, inaccessibility or rarity, seem foreign to our everyday experience. They also include the hidden realm of caves and groundwater. A final group of geotopes comprises active landscape elements such as scree slopes, flood plains and springs - originally widespread - but which have today become scarce as a result of human encroachment.

Depending on their thematic content, geotopes can denote an occurrence at a single location or an entire portion of the landscape. Some examples include Monte San Giorgio (TI), gorges de l’Areuse (NE) and Rinquelle (SG).

The geotopes are to be preserved as natural monuments for posterity. They are to be protected from influences which negatively impact their substance, structure, shape or further natural development. The geotope inventory originated in the years 1996-99 as a result of communications from cantonal authorities, higher education institutes, regional natural research associations and private persons. It is constantly updated and today includes 322 objects (inventory 2012).

Gole della Breggia (TI)
The example of a geotope "Gole della Breggia" (TI) is also a Geopark.
© Mendrisiotto Tourism


List of geotopes of national significance