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Geopark

Geopark status recognises an area’s outstanding geological heritage value and its benefit to local people through tourism and education.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has accredited two UNESCO Global Geoparks in Scotland:

Lochaber Geopark was also a European and Global Geopark until 2011 when it left the Network. It is now in the process of re-applying.

Our three geoparks together cover about 10% of Scotland’s land area.

Designation

UNESCO created the UNESCO Global Geopark accreditation in November 2015. Geoparks within the Global Geoparks Network now have the same level of status as World Heritage Sites and biosphere reserves.

The 120-strong Global Geoparks Network includes 69 European Geoparks.

Selection

In Scotland, geopark proposals have been made by partnerships of:

  • local communities
  • local authorities
  • earth scientists
  • Scottish Natural Heritage

Applications for geopark status are submitted to the European Geoparks Network. A site visit is carried out to rigorously assess an application.

UNESCO automatically endorses any new European Geopark – meaning that all European Geoparks are also UNESCO Global Geoparks.

Protection and management

Each geopark has a management group, which promotes the geopark and coordinates activities within it.

Businesses inside a geopark that make use of or benefit from its area's geological heritage are encouraged to support their conservation. This is largely to do with ensuring that all activities are environmentally sustainable.

Businesses that adhere to the geopark’s aims may use the geopark logo in marketing material.

Geopark designation doesn’t affect the day-to-day management of the land by landowners and land managers.