What is a Geopark?

Geoparks are places where landscapes with outstanding geological heritage are used to support sustainable development; this is achieved through conservation, education, interpretation and nature-based tourism.

Geoparks represent some of Earth’s most extraordinary places.

The UNESCO Global Geoparks status is the international standard recognising outstanding geology and landscapes. There are 218 around the globe, eight in the UK, and only two in Scotland. UNESCO Global Geoparks enjoy the same level of recognition as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Arran Geopark is an aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark and is working towards achieving accreditation from UNESCO.

There is a useful short guide to accompany the video that can be downloaded here.

Are Geoparks only about Geology?

While a Geopark must demonstrate geological heritage of international significance, this alone is not enough to be a Geopark. Their purpose is to explore, develop and celebrate the links between its geological heritage and all other aspects of the area’s natural and cultural heritages. It is about reconnecting human society to the planet and to celebrate how our Earth, and its 4,600-million-year long history, has shaped every aspect of our lives and our societies. 

“A Geopark is NOT a geological park” – Guy Martini, President, Global Geoparks Council of UNESCO.

Geo is derived from the Ancient Greek, meaning the earth; the land; mother earth (‘gaia’); native land; or country.

Will Geopark status limit development?

What sets Geoparks apart from other designations, such as National Parks, is that they do not restrict development. Neither UNESCO nor the management organisation of the Geopark have any legal powers to do this. The principal focus of Geoparks is on using heritage to support sustainable economic development of the area – primarily through responsible tourism.

Where can I find out more?

Information on Geoparks throughout the world can be found here:

There are two UNESCO Global Geoparks in Scotland:

Scotland’s Geoparks are all individually managed and financed; they are however represented by the Scottish Geology Trusta charity who champion Scotland’s geological heritage and its Geoparks.


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