Managers and geologists from over 60 European UNESCO Global Geoparks gathered in County Clare last month to attend an international meeting and to visit the Burren & Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark.
The Geopark, managed by Clare County Council, was hosting European Geoparks Network members from across the continent including Iceland, Croatia, Spain, Norway, Portugal, Germany, UK and Slovenia.
Established in June 2000 The European Geoparks Networks (EGN) main objective is the protection of geological heritage and the promotion of sustainable development of Geopark territories in Europe. Through the EGN, European Geoparks share information, expertises and best practice on a range of subjects including heritage management, sustainable tourism development and environmental education.
As well undertaking visits to local landmarks and tourism businesses, the Network participated in a conference featuring presentations, discussions and displays on sustainable tourism at the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon on Friday (March 24th).
The 4-day programme of events coincided with 2017 being the UN Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
The Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark has been working on sustainable tourism programmes for many years, with ongoing support and funding from Failte Ireland and the Geological Survey of Ireland.
The Geopark has benefited from funding under the EU LIFE programme for the past 4 years and with co-funding from Clare County Council, Failte Ireland, the Geological Survey of Ireland, the OPW, the National Monuments Service, the Heritage Council, UCD and NUIG.
Geopark LIFE has run a variety of tourism management projects with national agencies, local groups and businesses. One of the most successful has been the development and growth of the Burren Ecotourism Network of tourism businesses committed to the sustainable future of the Burren and its tourism offering.
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, who addressed the conference, said: “The visit of so many international Geopark representatives is a vote of confidence in the work being undertaken by the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark in the sustainable rural and economic development of the Burren as well as the promotion and protection of the region’s unique landscape.”
“European Geoparks Network members are coming to Clare to discuss UNESCO Global Geopark Network business, to welcome new members into this ever growing network and to see the work of the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark, particularly in sustainable tourism,” explained Carol Gleeson, Manager, Burren & Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark.
“The aim of the coming meeting is to consider international best practice and to explore new ideas on the type of environments and partnerships we need to create here in Ireland, and in Europe, for sustainable destinations such as the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark to flourish,” added Ms. Gleeson