Andrew and Nikki, joined by two CCGHT Board members Graham and Mike, traveled to Ennistimon County Clare to represent The Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust at the Irish Geoparks Forum, an annual meeting of existing Geoparks and Aspiring Geoparks.
Geoparks are designated areas which contain one or more sites of geological importance. This designation is intended to conserve the geological heritage and promote public awareness of it, typically through tourism. In November UNESCO announced that Geoparks would be a recognised UNESCO designation, meaning it would sit alongside UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast and UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.
Currently there are three Geoparks on the island of Ireland; Marble Arch UNESCO Global Geopark, Copper Coast UNESCO Geopark and the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Geopark. This years meeting was hosted by the Burren and Cliffs of Moher and the theme was Working With Local Businesses.
The two day meeting allowed all attending to learn from the host Geoparks best practice examples both through presentations and visits to local business and key sites. Along side presentations, including one from CCGHT, and updates from each Existing and Aspiring Geopark there were opportunities to network (a key aspect of Geoparks), learn from each other and build relationships for future project partnerships.
Patrick Mc Keever, Chief of Earth Sciences and Geohazard Risk Reduction at UNESCO, provided a key note speech for a group evening meal, which was fitting given the UNESCO recognition announced that same week.
Meetings like these provide great opportunities to learn from peers and develop ideas of benefit the people and landscapes of the CCGHT area.
The Burren Centre in Kilfenora is a great example of a locally run visitor center which brings together local history, geology, love for the local are and it acts as a contact point for local businesses: partnership at it’s best.