Gildernew welcomes UNESCO approval for expansion of Fermanagh Geopark
Sinn Féin Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has praised UNESCO approval for the expansion of the Marble Arch Caves European Geopark into West Fermanagh.
The UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) approval paves the way to expand the current Geopark to ten times its current size taking it to an extended area of over 16,000 hectares in West Fermanagh. It will include some of the most scenic parts of Fermanagh including the spectacular Lough Navar viewpoint. The expansion will include large tracts of Forest Service land, with other parts being managed by the Environment and Heritage Service and Fermanagh District Council.
Endorsing the announcement, the Minister said,
"Geoparks are a key ingredient in promoting our geological heritage to the wider public through sustainable tourism. The Geopark here in Fermanagh is the only one in the North, and it gives me great pride to endorse such a large expansion which will help to maximise the tourist potential of West Fermanagh and, indeed, the wider region."
"I am very pleased that my Department, through the Forest Service has been able to play a key role working with Fermanagh District Council to allow its vision to become reality. Our forests offer an enormous range of economic, social and environmental benefits and the Geopark expansion will enable further development of that potential. I remain deeply committed to strengthening the social and economic infrastructure of rural areas and I am keen to support sustainable projects like the Geopark which enhance the quality of life for the rural community."
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- A European Geopark is a region containing geological sites of international and or national importance.
- A Geopark must carry out active conservation measures to protect its natural and cultural heritage and deliver relevant environmental education programmes.
- A Geopark must play a significant role in the economic development of its region through tourism.
- A Geopark is not a statutory designation so it does not impose any restriction on private landowners.
- The approval was announced at Tir Navar, Derrygonnelly at an event including representatives from Forest Service, Fermanagh District Council and UNESCO.