TWO Irish beauty spots have undergone a five-day review in a bid to keep their designation as a UNESCO Global Geopark.
An evaluation team from UNESCO concluded their visit to County Clare on June 26 as part of a revalidation process for the Burren and Cliffs of Moher’s UNESCO status.
Headed by Dr. Babis Fassoulas, of the University of Crete, and Adina Popa, of Hațeg Country UNESCO Global Geopark in Romania, the review team met with representatives of Clare County Council and the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, and local business and community representatives during their revalidation visit, which takes place every four years.
Led by Clare County Council, the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark first achieved Global Geopark status in 2011,
The designation was fully incorporated by UNESCO in 2015 to become a UNESCO Global Geopark.
That Geopark status was retained following a similar revalidation visit in 2019, and officials are hoping that the Geopark will once again be successful this year.
Councillor Tony O’Brien, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, said the Geopark plays a key role in ensuring tourism development across the Burren is delivered sustainably.
“The need to protect the Burren and to promote a prosperous local economy is a balancing act that requires the commitment and participation of many State Agencies working with the Geopark team and Clare County Council, the local business sector, wider community and other agencies at local and national level,” he explained.
“The designation of UNESCO Global Geopark status has been a hugely positive development for the region and the people who live and visit there, and I am confident the visiting UNESCO delegation will conclude that the Burren and Cliffs of Moher is a shining example within the Geopark network.”
Through its UNESCO designation, the Burren and Cliffs of Moher region forms part of a global community of 195 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 48 countries.
Those members share knowledge and expertise on heritage management and sustainable development.
"Sustainability is at the heart of everything that the team at the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark has been working to achieve in recent years,” explained Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council.
“These efforts have been recognised locally, national and internationally, and Clare County Council is delighted to be able to support the Geopark and the wider community in promoting the sustainable management of this important and geologically significant region. Retaining UNESCO Global Geopark status is a key objective of Clare County Council and is a key cog of the County Clare Tourism Strategy 2030.”
Carol Gleeson, Manager of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, added: “UNESCO Global Geopark status is more than a designation, it is membership of a worldwide network where knowledge sharing on heritage management and sustainable development takes a central role.
“This designation has acted as a catalyst for working towards sustainable, community-based tourism development of the Burren, using the already successful UNESCO brand as a mechanism for sharing these wonderful landscapes with the world.”
The UNESCO delegation’s visit to County Clare visit began on Thursday, June 22 with a presentation by the Geopark team in Ennistymon on the various developments since the last revalidation mission in 2019.
The five-day review concluded with a mission review with the Geopark team and Clare County Council’s Head of Tourism.
A decision on the redesignation of UNESCO Global Geopark status for the Burren and Cliffs of Moher is expected later this year.