Jean Urquhart, the Independent MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has welcomed First Minister Alex Samond’s announcement of £280,000 in new funding for Scotland’s two UNESCO Geoparks in Shetland and the North-West Highlands. The First Minster announced the cash yesterday afternoon during the Cabinet’s visit to Shetland.
Jean met with representatives of the two Geoparks yesterday in Shetland to celebrate the news and discuss plans for the future.
“I’m delighted by this announcement, and I know the hardworking, passionate teams of the two Geoparks are too. This funding means that their international status is secure, and they can build on their fantastic record of developing the educational and tourist potential of our magnificent geology.
“Scotland is the home of modern geology, and our Geoparks recognise two of the world’s most scientifically important and visually stunning landscapes.
“The many faults running through Shetland’s rock mean that you can see geology from all over the North of Scotland side by side. Geologically, Shetland is the Highlands in miniature.
“The North-West Highlands are home to the oldest rocks in Britain. At 3 Billion years old, some are well over half the age of the planet. The Moine Thrust that runs right through the NW Highlands Geopark was instrumental in proving that the continents are moving – a debate that wasn’t settled until the 1960s.
“We Scots are rightly proud of our landscape. We want to experience it, to learn about it, and to show it off to our friends from around the world. That’s what our Geoparks are all about, and it’s great to know that they will go from strength to strength.”
The funding, of £140,000 per year for 2013/14 and 2014/15, is the first the Geoparks have received from the Scottish Government. Without it the international status of the two parks could have been at risk, as UNESCO requires that Geoparks be financially secure in order to remain a member of the European Geoparks Network and Global Geoparks Network.
Yes, great news for the NW Highlands and Shetland, BUT a great pity the government has decided to ignore the plight of Lochaber Geopark which lost its UNESCO status last year.