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Burren awarded UNESCO-supported Global Geopark Status -Burren and Cliffs of Moher region designated at Norwegian conference
geoparkawardpres.jpgBurren and Cliffs of Moher region of north Clare has been awarded the prestigious designation of membership of the UNESCO-supported Global Geopark network at the 10th European Geoparks Conference in Langesund, Norway.
The Burren now becomes part of a unique group of world locations that form part of the Global Network of National Geoparks. The award is the culmination of a long application process that was coordinated by Clare County Council through the Burren Connect project, with the support of the Geological Survey of Ireland and Shannon Development. There are currently 78 Geoparks in 26 countries worldwide.
Accepting the award on behalf of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher region, Mayor of Clare Cllr. Pat Hayes said “As part of this UNESCO supported initiative, The Burren and Cliffs of Moher region now enjoy global recognition for this unique landscape. Global Geopark status is in recognition of the established network of specific sites of geological interest, a group of environmentally-conscious tourism businesses, and a busy annual calendar of community-based events and activities. I want to congratulate everyone involved in achieving such a standard and Clare County Council looks forward to working with all parties on the further delivery of the Geopark programme”.
Global Geopark status is not a legislative designation. Under the Geopark Network Charter each member must respect and adhere to local and national laws pertaining to conservation, planning, land management and access to private property.
“Global Geopark status does not create a national park or nature park, and does not permit open access to private property or land. It is the role of a Geopark to encourage visitors and communities to experience geology at publicly accessible sites and trails, where maintenance and access can be managed” continued Cllr. Hayes.
Whilst the award has been granted to the Burren region, the actual components of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark are presently confined to specific public sites of geological and cultural interest, a network of visitor and education centres, the Burren Ecotourism Network businesses, and established walking routes such as the Burren Way and Burren looped walks.
Dr. Pat O’Connor, Acting Director of the Geological Survey of Ireland commented “The Geoparks network was established to help support local communities to sustainably develop their local economy through the promotion of geological heritage and the encouragement of ecotourism initiatives. The Geopark award is granted to regions that have an internationally important geological landscape but the award is not based solely on geology. As a member of the Global Geopark Network, the challenge now will be to further promote the Burren’s geological heritage among local communities and visitors, and to help to raise an awareness of this outstanding landscape so as to maintain this designation into the future”.
The involvement of many local visitor and education centres, businesses, schools, and communities proved to be an essential contributory factor in achieving the designation. Since 2008, Geopark meetings and events have been held throughout north Clare to communicate the concept of a Geopark. Dr. Vincent Cunnane, Chief Executive, Shannon Development said “the Burren is recognised throughout the world as an iconic landscape of outstanding geology and breathtaking coastal scenery. North Clare is famous for traditional music, dancing, match-making, Gaelic games, food, art and literature. Integral to all of this is a thriving natural and cultural landscape that is difficult to find anywhere else in the world. Shannon Development is very pleased to have worked on this initiative and be part of the group that achieved this global recognition. This award now gives a platform for the further development of eco tourism businesses and other initiatives in the area”.
Ms. Joanna McInerney, Manager of the Burren Outdoor Education Centre and Chair of the Burren Ecotourism Network said “A Global Geopark must also support education programmes, such as the geology evening course held in spring of 2010 and 2011 in the Burren Outdoor Education Centre. We look forward to continue to play our part in increasing awareness of the important landscape of the Burren. The Geopark project is organising a Geo-Explorer Day in collaboration with the Burren Outdoor Education Centre on Saturday October 15th. The day’s events will include introductory caving, geo-kayaking, hill-walking and a family beach exploration”

Pictured receiving the award from Ms. Margarete Patzak, Programme Specialist, UNESCO is Cllr. Pat Hayes Mayor of Clare, Dr. Pat O’Connor, Acting Director, Geological Survey of Ireland (on left) and Dr. Ronán Hennessy, Burren Connect Project, County Clare.