Linking Geoheritage and Traditional Architecture for Mitigating Depopulation in Rural Areas: the Palaeozoic Villages Route (Courel Mountains UNESCO Global Geopark, Spain)
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AuthorBallesteros Posada, Daniel; Caldevilla, Pablo; Vila, Ramón; Barros, Xose Carlos; Alemparte, Martín
DepopulationGeotourismCourel Mountains UGGpRural areasTraditional architecture
Ballesteros, D... [et al.]. Linking Geoheritage and Traditional Architecture for Mitigating Depopulation in Rural Areas: the Palaeozoic Villages Route (Courel Mountains UNESCO Global Geopark, Spain). Geoheritage 13, 63 (2021). [https://doi.org/10.1007/s12371-021-00590-8]
SponsorshipCourel Mountains UGGp through the Ribeira Sacra-Courel Local Action Group; municipality of Quiroga; municipality of Ribas de Sil; Deputy Government of Lugo Province; Regional Government of Galicia; municipality of Folgoso do Courel
The use of stone in traditional architecture represents one of the most relevant links between geological and cultural heritage. As a topic of general interest and easily understandable to all public, this link is a guiding thread for touristic routes mitigating the depopulation trend that affects large inland rural areas, including many areas in UNESCO Global Geoparks (UGGp). In the northwest of Spain, the Courel Mountains UGGp created the Palaeozoic Villages Route for touristic purposes in 2018, highlighting the relevance of local stones in traditional architecture as a key feature for sustainable development. For the design and creation of this route, seven villages were selected along six criteria: (1) the representativeness of the building stone with the bedrock of the UGGp, (2) the preserved traditional architecture, (3) their link with geoheritage, (4) the scenic beauty of their surroundings, (5) the potential combination with other touristic activities, and (6) the presence of local services. The Palaeozoic Villages Route exhibits four rock types/sections/structures spanning four Palaeozoic periods, as well as different uses for walling and roofing depending on the rock feature. Since 2018, the route experienced an increased revenue of 19% in the touristic sector to the traditional villages, while visitors used up to 61% of the local services of the UGGp for one or more days. In addition, the route reinforces the awareness of depopulation and abandonment of rural villages, fostering the purchase and/or restoration of dwellings as second regular residences in tranquil and scenic environments. In the short to medium term, these actions are expected to reverse or, at least, minimise the loss of population in the UGGp.