The Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark contains some of the finest landscapes in the north of Ireland. Ranging from rugged uplands, lakes and forests through to gently rolling drumlins, the landscapes of the Geopark represent a complex Earth history dating back as far as 650 million years ago. With evidence of mountain building and destruction; searing hot deserts and warm tropical oceans; and of icy wastelands and water-worn caverns, the rocks and landscapes of the Geopark are nothing short of amazing.
What is a GLOBAL GEOPARK?
A Global Geopark is a region with geological heritage of international significance where that heritage is being used to support local communities through sustainable tourism. It may be that the geological heritage is significant because of its educational value; because of its great value to science; or simply because it is beautiful to look at.
The Global Geopark brand is a voluntary, quality label and whilst it is not a legislative designation, the key heritage sites within a Geopark must be protected under local, regional or national legislation as appropriate. UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – endorses Global Geoparks but Global Geopark status does not imply restrictions on any economic activity inside a Geopark where that activity complies with local, regional or national legislation. What makes Geoparks different from designations such as World Heritage Sites is that Geoparks have a commitment to benefit the local economy, through the attraction of visitors to the area and the subsequent creation of jobs and businesses.
Geoparks aren’t just about Geology, they also contain sites of archaeological and historical significance, areas with interesting flora and fauna and also sites that have an interesting folklore behind them. After all many of these features are a direct result of the underlying geology. The purpose of a Geopark is to explore, develop and celebrate the links between the geological heritage and all other aspects of the area’s natural, cultural and intangible heritages. It is about reconnecting human society at all levels to the planet we call home and to celebrate how our planet and it’s 4,600 million year long history has shaped every aspect of our lives and our societies.
The motto of the Global Geoparks Network is “Celebrating Earth Heritage, Sustaining Local Communities”. Geoparks are fundamentally about people and about exploring and celebrating the links between our communities and the Earth. The Earth has shaped who we are; it has shaped our farming practices, the building materials and methods we have used for our homes, even our mythology, folklore and folk traditions. Global Geoparks therefore engage in a range of activities to celebrate these links. Many Global Geoparks have strong links to the arts communities where the synergy released by bringing science and the arts together can yield surprising results.
Each Geopark creates awareness and understanding of the natural and cultural landscapes, so each one aims to educate and inspire visitors to their area. The aim is for people to gain a sense of ownership and a desire to preserve such natural resources for future generations to enjoy. It can also be about simply engaging with local people and respecting their traditional way of life in a way that empowers them and respecting their traditional way of life in a way that empowers them and respects their human rights and dignity. Unless a Global Geopark has the support of local people it will not succeed.
Funding for this website has been provided by the INTERREG IVA Programme under the Harnessing Natural Resources (HNR) Project.
The HNR Project secured €3.064million to deliver 26 projects in the counties of Fermanagh, Cavan and Leitrim. Delivery of the Project is being managed by a consortium led by the Local Enterprise Office Cavan in collaboration with Fermanagh District Council, Cavan County Council, Leitrim County Council, Swanlinbar development Association, Coillte, Inland Fisheries Ireland and Cavan County Enterprise Fund.
The funding for this Project is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) in association with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.