Frequently Asked Questions
What is a UNESCO European / Global Geopark?
European Geoparks are areas in Europe with an outstanding geological heritage, where there is considerable local effort to conserve this heritage and encourage its enjoyment and understanding by the public, with the aim of supporting sustainable development
In April 2004, UNESCO announced the establishment of the Global Geopark Network, with the then 17 European Geoparks at the forefront of this worldwide family of special places.
It is more of a ‘status' than a formal ‘designation'. The founding Geoparks registered the Geopark brand and were successful in getting UNESCO support and recognition for it. It is a young status, only being established in 2000.
There are (as of March 2015) now 65 European Geoparks. All the European Geoparks are also part of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network. There are (as of Sept 2014) a total of 111 UNESCO Global Geoparks across the world.
What is the European / Global Geopark Network?
The organisations overseeing each Geopark are each members of the European Geopark Network and the UNESCO Global Geopark Network.
European Geoparks are administered by the Geopark Network Co-ordination Committee (with two representatives from each Geopark). Guiding the Co-ordination Committee is the Geopark Network Advisory Group (an international expert panel of geologists and others from within the Network, plus UNESCO).
Guided by the Advisory Group, the Co-ordination Committee sets Geopark policy and processes new applications for Geopark status.
In Europe, it is necessary to become a European Geopark prior to entering the UNESCO Global network.
UNESCO will now only accept two Geopark applications at any one time from each member state (partially reflecting the process for designating World Heritage Sites, which takes just one national application at any one time).
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, the status is granted for a period of four years only, after which, a rigorous revalidation inspection is undertaken, by two members of the European Geopark Network Coordination Committee, to examine the quantity and quality of the work undertaken and its impact on the area as a whole. A report is then submitted by the inspectors to both the Global Geopark Network and UNESCO who make the decision regarding the renewal of membership.
In order to keep the Geopark status, ERGO will have to show that it had been an active member of the Geopark Network across a number of categories:
What practical benefits does it bring?
The European / Global Geopark status does not come with a pot of money to spend on local projects. What it offers is 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.
Can we use the branding?
Use of the branding is regulated by the ERGO Steering goup.
Through the Geopark Commercial Membership Scheme local attractions and accommodation providers may, with the prior approval of ERGO, use the English Riviera Global Geopark logo and European 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 ‘columns' 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 steering 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'.