Shetland Gains Global Geopark Status

by Deborah Leggate -

Geopark Shetland found out today that Shetland has been accepted into the Global Geoparks Network.

Shetland became a European Geopark in September last year and was put forward by the European network to become a member of the Global Geoparks network. Shetland Amenity Trust Chairman, Brian Gregson, was invited as a speaker to the 4th international UNESCO conference on Geoparks (IGC) in Langkawi Geopark, Malaysia, where Shetland was formally accepted as a Global Geopark member.

The International Geoparks Conference provides a venue for members of the Global Geoparks Network, scientists and practitioners interested in geoheritage conservation to get together biannually to discuss a range of topics and share their experiences. Topics covered during this conference included Geoparks in relation to community involvement, environment, quality management, tourism, organisation structure, advancement of geosciences, communicating geoheritage and sustainable development. Other subjects included the networking of global and regional Geoparks, and how to engage younger audiences.

This year the conference attracted more than 400 delegates from Geoparks all over the world. During the six day conference delegates took part in a programme of field trips, workshops, presentations and business meetings. One of the presentations was given by Mr Gregson, who spoke about Geopark Shetland's journey to gaining European Geopark Status.

Speaking about the conference, Mr Gregson said: "The entire conference has been very useful. I have learned a lot about how other Geoparks work and made a lot of contacts. My presentation was very well received and it was great to have the opportunity to present Geopark Shetland on a global platform. Lots of delegates showed an interest in working with, and visiting, Geopark Shetland and I'm sure I will be hearing from many of them in the future. Accepting Global Geopark Status on behalf of Geopark Shetland was an honour and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the success of Geopark Shetland."

Shetland is packed with an incredibly varied geology spanning almost 3 billion years. It has the most amazing diversity of landscape in an area its size anywhere, all due to its astonishing variety of rocks. These rocks tell an amazing tale, not just about Shetland, but how the world itself has formed and changed. Here you can discover oceans opening and closing, mountains forming and eroding, tropical seas, volcanoes, deserts, ice ages and ancient rivers! This geology has also created a home for a world famous biodiversity and influenced the fascinating cultural heritage of the isles.

Gaining Global Geopark Status will further raise the profile of Shetland's incredible geology on an international level and create many new opportunities for the isles.