Frequently Asked Questions
What are UNESCO Global Geoparks?
In November 2015, UNESCO formerly recognised the work of all the existing Global Geoparks when they initiated the International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme and all Global Geoparks became UNESCO Global Geoparks.
UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. A UNESCO Global Geopark uses its geological heritage, in connection with all other aspects of the area’s natural and cultural heritage, to enhance awareness and understanding of key issues facing society, such as using our Earth’s resources sustainably, mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing the impact of natural disasters. By raising awareness of the importance of the area’s geological heritage in history and society today, UNESCO Global Geoparks give local people a sense of pride in their region and strengthen their identification with the area. The creation of innovative local enterprises, new jobs and high quality training courses is stimulated as new sources of revenue are generated through geotourism, while the geological resources of the area are protected.
What is the Global Geopark Network?
The Global Geoparks Network (GGN), of which membership is obligatory for UNESCO Global Geoparks, is a legally constituted not-for-profit organisation with an annual membership fee. The GGN founded in 2004 is a dynamic network where members are committed to work together, exchange ideas of best practise, and join in common projects to raise the quality standards of all products and practises of a UNESCO Global Geopark. While the GGN as a whole comes together every two years, it functions through the operation of regional networks, such as the European Geoparks Network that meets twice a year to develop and promote joint activities.
How many UNESCO Global Geoparks (UGGp) are there?
As of April 2019 there are 147 UNESCO Global Geoparks across 41 countries. This includes 7 within the UK (Marble Arch Caves UGGp, North Pennines AONB and UGGp, Fforest Fawr UGGp, North West Highlands UGGp, English Riviera UGGp, Sheltand UGGp and GeoMon UGGp).
How do you become a UNESCO Global Geopark? Evaluation and Revalidation:
To become a UNESCO Global Geopark all areas have to submit an application and undergo a rigorous desk top and on-site inspection called a field mission carried out by two experienced, UNESCO recognised, evaluators.
All applications and reports are then considered by the UNESCO Global Geopark Council then ratified by the UNESVO Executive Board. UNESCO member states can only have two active Geopark applications in the system at one time(partially reflecting the process for designating World Heritage Sites, which takes just one national application at any one time).
UNESCO Global Geopark status is not awarded for an indefinite period.
More detailed information on the application process can be found on the UNESCO website here.
To maintain quality standards and reputation all UGGp’s must undergo revalidation every four years, whereby the Geopark must submit information and progress reports and has to undergo detailed inspection during a revalidation field mission. As during the initial evaluation during revalidation all aspects of the Geopark and its progress is reviewed including management structure and financial status, infrastructure, educational activities, marketing and promotional activities, conservation, sustainable economic development etc. Again the field mission will be undertaken by two experienced, UNESCO recognised evaluators who will assess the quality of the UGGp.
The revalidation field mission report will be considered by the UNESCO Global Geopark Council. If on the basis of the field evaluation report, the UGGp:
- continues to fulfil the criteria, the area will continue as a UNESCO Global Geopark for a further four-year period (termed a Green Card)
- no longer fulfils the criteria, the management body will be informed to take appropriate steps to resolve any issues within a two year period after which a further revalidation inspection will take place (termed a Yellow Card)
- no longer fulfils the criteria within the two years after receiving a ‘yellow card’, the area will lose its status as a UNESCO Global Geopark (termed a Red Card)
When did the English Riviera become a UNESCO Global Geopark?
The English Riviera became a Global Geopark in 2007 and then in accordance with the formation of the UNESCO International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme was recognised as a UNESCO Global Geopark in November 2015.
Is the Geopark just along the coast?
No, our Geopark designation is for the whole of Torbay.
Is the UNESCO Global Geopark the play park on Paignton seafront?
No, the Geoplay Park in Paignton is a fantastic geologically themed playpark but it is only a facility within the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark designated area just like Kents Caven or Berry Head.
What is the boundary of the English Riviera Global Geopark?
The Geopark incorporates the whole of Torbay including the three towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham and so follows Torbay Council Unitary Authority boundary exactly (64km2 of land and 42km2 of marine area).
Does the English Riviera have the status for life?
No, as detailed above the status is only granted for a period of four years at a time after which all Geoparks must undergo revalidation. To date, the English Riviera has undergone two revalidations in 2011 and 2015 and was granted a Green Card on both occasions
In order to keep the Geopark status, the English Riviera Geopark Organisation (ERGO) has to show that it has been an active member across a number of categories:
- Contribution to the work of the Global Geopark Network
- Strategic Partnerships (local, national and international)
- Marketing and Promotion (covering public outreach, education, publications, infrastructure and monitorring)
- Sustainable Economic Development
What practical benefits does it bring?
The UNESCO Global Geopark status does not come with a pot of money to spend on local projects. However:
- UNESCO is a recognised brand of quality that the English Riviera is now associated
- The status provides access to like-minded partner organisations in complementary areas across Europe and further afield and a ‘brand' which is rapidly developing global currency. ERGO are working work with these organisations in order to (i) develop funding bids for geological conservation, geotourism and geoeducation projects, (ii) to share information and ideas and (iii) on joint promotional initiatives.
- The status encourages new people to visit and businesses to locate here, therby helping the economy.
- Since designation in 2007 the status has helped many of the Geopark partners stand out above the crowd when it comes to funding applications.
- The successful funding bids have helped projects and works in the area improving facilities for locals and visitors alike.
- The Geopark helps local people understand and connect with the place where they live and the wider world.
- The status highlights everything that makes the bay a special place to live, work and play.
- It highlights our long forgotten but very important geology both in the public and academic realms
- The status provides opportunities for our young people to learn about, experience and understand their home and opens their eyes to other cultures and environments.
Can we use the branding?
Use of the branding is regulated by the ERGO Management Group.
Through the Geopark Commercial Membership Scheme local attractions and accommodation providers may, with the prior approval of ERGO, use the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark logo to promote their business as being in a Geopark. It must be clear that this is to be used in order to denote that such businesses are ‘within' a Geopark, not ‘part of' a Geopark, or in the case of attractions, ‘are' Geoparks in their own right. The UNESCO ‘temple' logo may not be used without the prior permission of UNESCO.
Anyone wishing to use the Geopark branding on publications, or other forms of interpretation, should submit details to ERGO about how they intend to use it. This is to ensure appropriate use and to try and maintain quality standards. Inappropriate use of the Geopark logo / branding will lead to the status being withdrawn. Seeking to use the branding is not an onerous process and ERGO is encouraging local organisations to use it appropriately on their promotional material.
Does Geopark status bring any restrictions with it?
Geopark Network member organisations are not allowed to be involved in the sale or unsupervised or unregulated collection of geological material. In the case of the English Riviera Geopark , this includes the members of the Management Group plus our partners and commercial members.
The status places no other restrictions on land management, commercial mining or quarrying etc. but these operations cannot use the Geoparks logo or promote themselves as being ‘part of a Geopark'.