Scheldt Delta officially recognized as UNESCO Geopark


The region of the Belgian-Dutch Scheldt Delta has been officially recognized as a UNESCO Global Geopark. The world heritage organization thereby acknowledges that the area is exceptional in terms of its geological, cultural-historical, and landscape features. The Scheldt Delta becomes the second UNESCO Geopark in Belgium, following the recognition of Famenne-Ardenne in 2018.

With its 5,500 square kilometers, the Scheldt Estuary immediately becomes one of the largest geoparks in the world. Through this recognition, the Scheldt Estuary joins geological gems such as the black volcanic beaches of Lanzarote, the geothermal sites of Iceland, and Colca in Peru, one of the deepest canyons in the world. In a Geopark, sustainable development of the area is central. As of 2024, UNESCO has recognized 213 geoparks in 48 countries.

Natural and Human Forces

The current landscape of the Scheldt Delta Geopark tells a story of 50 million years of subsidence and uplift of the land, of sea level rise and fall, of tidal waters, rivers, and climate change. Additionally, it illustrates the alternating role of natural processes and human influences over the past two thousand years: the Delta Works, clay pits for the brick industry, peat extraction for energy and salt, deforestation for construction, controlled flooding areas (Sigma Plan)…

"Schelde Delta UNESCO Global Geopark holds a unique geological position between the sinking North Sea Basin and the rising Brabant Massif. Geological forces, climate-driven environmental change and human interactions have forged a landscape rich in geological, morphological and cultural-historical traces," writes UNESCO. At the same time, the geopark raises awareness about the region's vulnerability to climate change: the geopark shows on a small scale what the effects of climate change and sea level rise are worldwide.


To achieve this recognition, five provinces (Zeeland, North Brabant, Antwerp, East and West Flanders) submitted a robust application dossier. They have collaborated and continue to collaborate with over 60 municipalities, museums, tourist services, as well as research institutions including Ghent University and the Institute of Natural Sciences.

Geologists from our institute support the Geopark scientifically. They assist local partners in making the geological history of the Geopark visible and experiential. They do this through workshops and the development of walking and cycling routes along geosites. In collaboration with the Rupelklei Museum in Rumst, they are developing an Augmented Reality sandbox, where you can experiment with the topography and cartography of self-made landscapes.

Discover the Scheldt Delta at