Motion: Shetland and North West Highland Geoparks Retain International Status

I was delighted to hear that both of Scotland’s Geoparks were recently revalidated by the European Geopark Network- here’s hoping that it’s the first step to wider recognition for Scotland’s unique geological heritage, and that the money granted to the Geoparks by the Scottish Government can help to secure their long-term future.


That the Parliament welcomes the news that both of Scotland’s current geoparks have been revalidated by the European Geopark Network (EGN); understands that membership of the network, which is part of a global network supported by UNESCO, illustrates the outstanding geological heritage of a territory and is subject to revalidation every four years; considers membership of the EGN to be vital to the sustainability and success of both the Shetland and North West Highland geoparks; further considers that the Scottish Government’s welcome announcement of a £280,000 investment in both geoparks demonstrates the importance of geotourism in Scotland, and looks forward to both geoparks developing as educational centres and increasing grassroots community involvement.


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.

Jean said:

“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.