Geoparks are territories that aim at preserving and highlighting aspects of the Earth heritage, placing emphasis on rocks and the local relief as well as ways of using this heritage for sustainable development of rural communities. The fundamental goals of Geoparks are territorial sustainable development and support for local economy and products through the development of alternative forms of tourism, such as Geotourism.
Geoparks were established as an institution in 2000 in four rural parts of Europe - one of them being the Petrified Forest of Lesvos - with the establishment of the European Geoparks Network. In 2004, recognizing their role, UNESCO placed the European Geoparks under its auspices and, following suite, created the Global Geoparks Network. Currently, four Greek areas, namely, the Petrified Forest of Lesbos Geopark, the Psiloritis Geopark, the Chelmos-Vouraikos Geopark in the Peloponnese and the Vikos-Aoos Geopark in Epirus, belong to the European and Global Geoparks networks, which include 64 and 111 members respectively.