Open-air paleontological sites: A Dissemination Opportunity and a Risk to Spoliation. A Case Study in the Orígens Geopark, Spain
Visits to paleontological sites are one of the most popular geotourism activities, but their appeal may have drawbacks. Deciding which sites are suitable for dissemination and appropriate measures for their optimal conservation can be complex. Here, we present a geoconservation inventory of 15 Upper Cretaceous paleontological sites with dinosaur and other vertebrate remains from the Origens UNESCO Global Geopark. We provide a summary of the inventory and methodology used to characterize the geosites. We used a modified version of a geoconservation questionnaire developed by the Spanish Geological Survey that allows systematic characterization of the sites and diagnosis of their geo-touristic and educational potential, as well as their susceptibility to degradation through exposure to local environmental conditions, vandalism, and spoliation. Based on these criteria, protection and conservation measures tailored to the needs of each site are recommended. Our aim is to address questions on previously published geoconservation measures and to establish a preliminary systematic approach in the characterization, diagnosis, and protection of vertebrate paleontological sites in the Spanish Pyrenees.