Fforest Fawr Geopark in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales has been recognised as one of the UK’s seven Global Geoparks under a new UNESCO initiative. The programme is the first formal recognition of Global Geoparks and confers on them the same prestigious status which UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites enjoy.
Fforest Fawr Geopark is celebrating its inclusion in the list – the first initiative of its kind from UNESCO (United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture) in 40 years. The decision was reached in Paris at the organisation’s general conference last week. The status recognises an area of outstanding geological interest together with its distinct industrial, cultural and archaeological heritage, where the local communities promote the local, unique geology to stimulate economic development in the area.
Fforest Fawr was the first Welsh Geopark and it celebrated its tenth birthday last month. In 2016 it will receive a visit from the network’s evaluators who will ensure that the Global Geopark is continuing to develop and improve.
Dr Tony Ramsay, Scientific Director of the Fforest Fawr Geopark said today
““I am thrilled that the first decade of our Geopark is marked by this international recognition. The success of our Geopark is based on the strong cooperation between its communities and partner organisations. Our Geopark Festival in May has proved very popular in promoting Fforest Fawr Geopark. Thousands of visitors have enjoyed guided walks and stimulating lectures by experts in various fields. I think this new international designation will inspire us to go from strength to strength.”
Councillor Gareth Ratcliffe, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority Member Champion for Business and Development agreed:
“We have just finished a scrutiny review of the impact of the Geopark and it has drawn our attention to the community engagement in and enthusiasm for the Fforest Fawr Geopark. We have trained over fifty local businesses to become specialist ambassadors for our Geopark and the UNESCO Global Geopark programme will help us to build on our work here and reach an even wider audience. “
UK National Commission for UNESCO’s Natural Sciences Director, Dr. Beth Taylor said: “The UK’s seven Global Geoparks are a national treasure, not just in terms of their geological interest but the enthusiasm and dedication of their local champions who work so hard to maintain them and to make the most of the educational and economic opportunities they offer. They are a great illustration of local communities working very effectively in some of the most remote and beautiful areas of the UK. But I appreciate that they are also a bit of a national secret, not widely recognised by visitors or even by many of those who live within their boundaries. I hope that the UNESCO brand will give our Global Geoparks the same recognition factor as World Heritage Sites – a visible guarantee of their international significance and an assurance that they are great places to visit and explore.”