UNESCO Global Geopark TERRA.vita

Chronicle of the Earth

The name is apt: TERRA.vita, the UNESCO Global Geopark, offers a record of our planet's life. The area encompasses the most northwestern foothills of the German low mountain ranges, the Teutoburg Forest and the Wiehen Hills. No other place offers such a complete documentation of the past 300 million years of earth's history. Geological and climatic processes can be followed between moors and wooded mountain ranges, and between riverine landscapes and terminal moraines coal forests, dinosaur tracks and ice age erratic blocks can be found.

The Geopark, at the time a nature park in the northern Teutoburg Forest - Wiehen Hills, was founded in 1962. Since then, it boasts a network of over 4,000 km of paths, which includes themed tours as well as long-distance cycle paths. Despite significant human influence, the landscape is still clearly a product of geological and environmental processes. Several protected areas (including Natura 2000) preserve different and varied landscapes. Since 2015, TERRA.vita has held the status of a UNESCO Global Geopark.

Forests make up almost 70 percent of the Geopark's area. The typical landscape with low mountain ranges has interesting geological fault lines (anticline). During the Saale Ice Age, about 150,000 years ago, glaciers extended from the north to these mountain ranges. The "Ankumer Höhen" are part of a glacial terminal moraine from the Saale ice age. Together with its near symmetrical counterpart, the Dammer Berge, it is considered to be the best preserved terminal moraine in northwest Germany.  There are also individual remains of post-glacial bogs.

In addition to mining museums, a visitor mine, a large number of tombs from the Neolithic Age, the largest salt pans in northwest Europe or one of the largest hard stone quarries in Europe, a large number of other landmarks can be visited.

A contribution to sustainable development

With over 100 natural monuments and geological phenomena to enjoy, visitors can discover the history of our planet and develop an awareness of how to grapple with environmental issues and the global challenges they present. The TERRA.vita team aims to show visitors the opportunities to create a more sustainable life on Earth.

The UNESCO Geopark TERRA.vita strives to make nature and the environment into an experience, with a core focus being geological facts. The Geoparks explores questions like: which rock layers from which phases of the earth's history can be found here? What forces were at work? What does this history mean for today's land forms, vegetation, fauna and soil formation? What raw materials are present and how were or are they used?

International partnerships

Only an hour and a half drive from Osnabrück, the UNESCO Geopark De Hondsrug is located directly on the German-Dutch border. The Geopark TERRA.vita entered into a cooperation agreement with the Dutch UNESCO Global Geopark. Initiated on the basis of an INTERREG project, the cooperation is primarily geared towards the fields of tourism, education and economy.

Master plan for the future

A master plan, drawn up in 2015, serves as the basis for the development of strategies and priorities for the future. Among other things, the plan deals with the strengths and weaknesses of the park, its future orientation and the sustainability of current structures and management. At the invitation of TERRA.vita, stakeholders from the fields of tourism, nature conservation, economic development and local authorities participated.

Illustration Geoparks


  • Year of Designation: 2015
  • Provinces: Lower Saxony and North Rhine Westphalia
  • Area: around 1, 560 km²
  • Website: www.naturpark-terravita.de


Model Region for Sustainable Development - TERRA.vita UNESCO Global Geopark and the 2030 Agenda.
Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission, 2021