Global Geoparks are locally-led partnerships within areas of internationally significant geology that work to support sustainable economic development of the area, primarily through geological and eco-tourism.
The UK’s Global Geoparks are incredibly diverse – from the sparsely populated North West Highlands to the UK’s first urban Geopark in the English Riviera. Their remit is also vast from providing consulting services and advice to inform local planning and building activities, to carrying out cutting-edge scientific research on the geological landscape, undertaking conservation activities and galvanising community-led partnerships to develop geo-tourism and sustainable development of the region. Their education remit also informs their community outreach programmes to engage the local community with their shared geological heritage, its connection to culture and their shared responsibility to both protect and promote it.
The UK is home to seven Global Geoparks, stretching from the English Riviera in the South to Geopark Shetland in the North, and including two in Wales and a cross-border Global Geopark shared by Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The UK sites are part of a growing Global Network of National Geoparks (GGN); a voluntary network of 119 Global Geoparks across 33 countries.
The UK’s Global Geoparks are part of the UK National Committee for UNESCO Global Geoparks which facilitates information and partnership working between the Geoparks as well as support to aspiring Geoparks. The Committee is chaired by Melanie Border of the English Riviera Global Geopark.
The UK hosted the International Conference for Global Geoparks at the English Riviera Global Geopark in September 2016.