Introduction In order to meet society’s increasing need for information on geo-environmental matters, the Emilia-Romagna Geological Survey (Servizio Geologico, Sismico e dei Suoli - SGSS) has launched a comprehensive outreach programme to share the knowledge base it has built up in the field of Earth Sciences.
Outreach programme This programme is addressed to both public administration technicians and professionals, focusing on the use of geological and soil maps, geothematic maps and their applications. Furthermore, the SGSS strives to educate the public at large through its website www.regione.emilia-romagna.it/geologia and other media like: maps of geo-environmental itineraries, documentaries, educational CDs, exhibitions and the publication of books and information leaflets. With these initiatives, the priority is to understand how to explain the basic concepts of geoscience to the general public. Firstly, the SGSS worked to make geo-information available to the public through an attractive format and language that is easy to understand. To achieve this goal, the SGSS created a working group (comprising geologists, graphic artists, educators) to find a communication strategy for each kind of end-user (school children, citizens, tourists, politicians, etc.). Secondly, we considered how people can experience the basic concepts of geoscience in their own lives. Our experience has demonstrated that landscape is a powerful tool for the dissemination of geoscientific information to the general public. Geological heritage is the basic element of the landscape and it often has strong links with other elements of the territory like history, environmental aspects, gastronomy, folklore, etc. For this reason, SGSS decided to strengthen the territorial dimension of the outreach programme, linking it to the census of the Emilia-Romagna geological heritage. The census is a scientific project that has been carried out using data collected from over more than 25 years of regional geological mapping (1:10.000 to 1:25.000 scale). A digital database stores all the information about the "regional sites of geological interest" facilitating the production of innovative geological maps and other products. The "Emilia-Romagna Geological Landscape Map", 1:250.000 scale, is an example of our approach for popularising geoscience. This map emphasizes the relationship between geology and landscape, showing how different rocks produce different features and different behaviour of the territory. The map shows the basic concepts of geoscience by looking at the landscape we see in front of us every day.
Conclusion The landscape is a powerful tool for bringing geological knowledge within the grasp of non-geologist users. The strong relationship between geology and landscape has to the potential to stimulate citizens to re-appropriate the values of the territory’s heritage, encouraging their participation in the territory’s cultural revitalization and environmental protection.