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.
The UNESCO Global Geoparks designation is the international standard recognising outstanding geology and landscapes. UNESCO Global Geoparks enjoy the same level of recognition as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are 195 around the globe, eight in the UK, and only two in Scotland.
What sets it apart from other designations is that it comes without any restrictions on development as it has no legal status. The principal focus is on using heritage to support sustainable economic development of the area – primarily through responsible tourism.
Arran Geopark is an Aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark and is currently 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.
Where can I find out more?
Information on Geoparks throughout the world can be found here:
Arran Geopark is part of a network of Scottish Geoparks:
Scotland’s Geoparks are all individually managed and financed; they are however represented by the Scottish Geology Trust, a charity who champion Scotland’s geological heritage and its Geoparks.