Congratulations to Scotland’s new UNESCO geoparks

Kayaking round Achiltibuie. Photo: North West Highlands Geopark
Kayaking round Achiltibuie. Photo: North West Highlands Geopark
Scotland’s two Geoparks, in Shetland and the North West Highlands, have been awarded the new UNESCO Global Geopark status, and Jean has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament to congratulate the teams behind the success.

Representatives of UNESCO’s 195 member states created the Global Geopark designation at their General Conference, which was held in Paris between 3 November and 18 November. It is the first major new UNESCO designation to be created for over 40 years, and ranks the Shetland and North West Highland Geoparks alongside UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves.

Jean said:

“UNESCO Global Geopark designation is a well-deserved tribute both to the exceptional importance and beauty of Scotland’s geology, to the dedication of everyone who contributed to the creation and development of Shetland Geopark and North West Highlands Geopark, and to the Scottish Government’s vital support of the parks.

“The new status reflects the how important it is to understand our geological history, and how important our geology is to our future – from developing our energy economy to dealing with the consequences of climate change.

“It’s fitting that two of the very first UNESCO Global Geoparks are here in Scotland, the place where James Hutton invented the science of geology and proved that the earth is ever-changing.

“Our Geoparks honour two of the world’s most scientifically important and visually stunning landscapes, and do brilliant work developing their educational and tourist potential.

“Shetland’s complicated fault lines mean that you can see rock types otherwise found scattered across the North of Scotland, side by side. Geologically, Shetland is the Highlands in miniature and a visit to the Geopark is a whirlwind tour of billions of years of Scotland’s history.

“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 North West Highlands Geopark was instrumental in proving that the continents are moving – a debate that wasn’t settled until the 1960s.

“I’m so happy for the teams that have worked so hard to bring these ancient stories to life, and I’m sure their new global status will help them delight and inform many, many more visitors from across Scotland and around the world.”

Jean’s Scottish Parliament motion reads:

Motion S4M-14907: Jean Urquhart, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 19/11/2015

Scotland’s UNESCO Global Geoparks

That the Parliament congratulates Shetland Geopark and North West Highlands Geopark on becoming UNESCO Global Geoparks; understands that Global Geopark status is the first new UNESCO designation of its kind to be created in over 40 years; considers that this status now ranks the Shetland and North West Highland parks alongside UNESCO World Heritage Sites in importance and esteem; recognises with gratitude the work of everyone who contributed to Scotland’s two Geoparks receiving and retaining the European Geopark Network green card status, which allowed them to become two of the inaugural 118 Global Geoparks worldwide; welcomes the support of the Scottish Government, which it believes has been crucial to the development of both Geoparks, and looks forward to the Geoparks’ continued success in bringing what it considers the fascinating story of Scotland’s geological history to visitors from across Scotland and around the world through the Global Network of Geoparks.