Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Hosts '˜Geopark Project Open Day'

Are you fascinated by volcanoes or curious about earthquakes?

If you love the world around you and would like to know more about how it has been formed then get yourself down to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s ‘Geopark Project Open Day‘ on Saturday, June 2nd 2018.

Running from 12/noon to 3pm in the Cloughmore Centre at Kilbroney Forest Park, Rostrevor, this free, family focused event is part of European Geoparks Week.

Supported by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI), the ‘Geopark Project Open Day’ is an opportunity to learn about geology through making fossils, erupting volcanoes, predicting earthquakes, touching and seeing wonderful rock specimens and making your very own planet earth.

Launching the Geopark Project Open Day are: (L-R) Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Cllr Roisin Mulgrew; Dr Kirstin Lemon, Geological Survey of Northern Ireland; Michelle Boyle, Tourism Development Officer Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Andy Patterson, Assistant Director Tourism, Culture and Events, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

Dr Kirstin Lemon from the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI) said: “The European Geoparks Week 2018, which takes place from May 25th to June 10th, is a European-wide initiative that celebrates Geoparks. It seeks to raise public awareness of geoconservation and promote geological heritage.

“By hosting public events it encourages people to learn about geotourism and get involved in educational activities. Events are varied and include public talks, activity days for schools, guided walks, exhibitions and workshops.

“Activities are coordinated and promoted across the whole European Geoparks Network demonstrating to communities that they are part of a wider collective which is promoting the sustainable use of our geological heritage. We are delighted to host a family fun day in Rostrevor.”

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is progressing plans to establish a UNESCO Global Geopark taking in the scenic beauty of Strangford Lough and Lecale, Ring of Gullion and the Mourne Mountains.

Cloughmore, known locally as The Big Stone is in Rostrevor, County Down. Picture: Tourism NI

UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of sustainable development, education and protection.

There are currently 140 UNESCO Global Geoparks found in 38 countries around the world, all of which have been developed using a bottom-up approach with local communities playing a significant role in this process.

The proposed UNESCO Global Geopark has the potential to generate sustainable tourism and deliver a range of economic benefits while providing recreational opportunities and increased awareness of the area’s natural assets.

It will involve people in their landscape and work with local landowners, businesses and communities in the scenic landscapes of Mourne, Ring of Gullion and Strangford and Lecale.

The UNESCO Global Geopark brand does not impose any restrictions on farming practices, planning or development.

Typical activities in a UNESCO Global Geopark include the development of walking and cycling trails, the training of local people to act as guides, provision of information signage and the development of visitor centres.

The ultimate aim of a UNESCO Global Geopark is to enhance the economy and develop employment opportunities for the people who live there.

There is a programme of work involved in securing UNESCO Global Geopark status and activity has been initiated to allow an application to be submitted to UNESCO for consideration by November 2019.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Roisin Mulgrew said: UNESCO Global Geopark status for the area will play a key role in differentiating the region and in giving it a much stronger and cohesive market identity.

“The proposed UNESCO Global Geopark will bring significant economic benefits and will also have an important role to play in empowering local communities, giving them the opportunities to develop cohesive partnerships with the common goal of promoting the area’s significant geological and other heritage.”

If you have any questions please contact the project team via E. [email protected].