A Social Impact Analysis of How Geoparks Contribute to Sustainable Economic Development: A Case Study of Meteorum Geopark in Dalarna, Sweden
In this thesis, Meteorum Geopark was researched to understand the social impact and the potential of Geoparks and Geotourism to contribute to sustainable economic development in an OECD nation. Meteorum is located in Dalarna, Sweden and is situated in a region called the Siljan Ring. As the Siljan Ring is a product of a meteorite impact from over 350 million years ago, this impact crater has helped to make the area unique in both its geodiversity and its cultural heritage. Having this as a basis for the development of a Geopark, the aim is to receive official UNESCO designation in the future. The study focused on social impacts and specifically the ability for a Geopark to create community empowerment. This method of analysis was used to understand the social impacts and lay a foundation for understanding the linkages for sustainable economic development. By analyzing the social impacts through a community empowerment framework, it was found that Meteorum can contribute in more ways than just economical benefits. It can help create an identity for the region and foster a management style that is conducive to prolonged development. Meteorum Geopark was seen to have the most potential for community empowerment within the psychological and political aspects of community empowerment. It was seen that Meteorum Geopark can foster a greater level of pride and identity through the democratic foundation for which it was built upon. Thus, it was found to have potential for enhancement of community empowerment within the Siljan Ring. With community empowerment as a potential outcome of Meteorum Geopark, the information was taken one step further to evaluate if it fit into the criteria for sustainable economic development. This was done by understanding Ostrom's management of the commons. The conception was that if a basis for effective management of the commons could be achieved, this would create an outcome that could result in sustainable economic development. This assessment hinged on the criteria of trust and reciprocity as presented by Ostrom. The geopark was found to exhibit aspects of trust and reciprocity which are essential to management of the commons. However, it was inconclusive as to the overall level that it could contribute and fulfill the criteria.
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