About Us

Myths about UNESCO Global Geoparks

Myth 1: UNESCO Global Geopark status will have an impact on planning

UNESCO Global Geopark status is not a statutory designation. It has no impact on planning applications or farming practices as there is no legal mechanism for that to happen.

UNESCO Global Geopark status is simply a brand that recognises the geological significance of the region much like a Michelin Star for a restaurant. UNESCO Global Geoparks rely on existing designations (e.g. AONB, ASSI, SAC) and will not add any more restrictions as they are not needed.

UNESCO Global Geoparks are living and working landscapes which is why the sustainable use of natural resources is one of the top ten focus areas for UNESCO Global Geoparks as outlined by UNESCO.

Myth 2: It’s just a National Park by the back door

There is no possible mechanism for a UNESCO Global Geopark to become a National Park. UNESCO Global Geoparks are a global brand and not a national statutory designation like a National Park.

UNESCO Global Geoparks require rigorous assessment before status is awarded and they are reassessed every four years. If it isn’t working, then status is lost! This is not the same with a National Park.

UNESCO Global Geoparks are focused on sustainable economic development which includes the sustainable use of natural resources so support farming.

Myth 3: Criteria for UNESCO Global Geoparks & National Parks are similar

On the surface it is easy to see why this comment would be made. Northern Ireland does not have legislation for National Parks. However, for those in England & Wales there are 2 statutory principles;

• to conserve & enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area; and
• to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the parks’ special qualities by the public.
• Under the Sandford Principle – CONSERVATION ALWAYS COMES FIRST.

There are 8 criteria for UNESCO Global Geoparks. All of EQUAL weight;

• Unified geographical area; management body of legal existence; use heritage to promote key societal issues; justify overlap with other UNESCO designations (of applicable); involve local communities; share experience with GGN; protect geological heritage; checklist criteria.

Myth 4: UNESCO Global Geoparks will bring too many visitors

UNESCO Global Geoparks are about economic development through sustainable tourism. This means that tourism should be developed whilst having no negative impact on the environment.

Increased tourism doesn’t necessarily mean more visitors, it means attracting a different type of visitor and those who spend more. Sustainable tourism in the area can help to disperse visitors throughout the area and take the pressure off busy location.

Sustainable tourism in the area can help to education visitors on the value of the landscape and help to protect it through initiatives such as litter reduction.

Myth 5: A UNESCO Global Geopark for the region is using additional ratepayers money

The groundwork for the Geopark was delivered as part of an EU-funded project with no extra cost to the rate payer. There have been no new sites created. Those included are already developed and have involved no additional cost.

Any tourism events and initiatives would have been delivered as part of the existing work plan. The Geopark is using existing products and bringing them together in a single cohesive brand to more efficiently drive economic development.

All new works have brought in significant funding to the Geopark, and created jobs. Check out our projects pages for more details.