Newry, Mourne and Down Council has been successful in its bid to secure Unesco status for Mourne Gullion Strangford.
The landscape was officially announced as a title holder at a meeting of the Unesco executive board in Paris on Wednesday.
It's the second site in Northern Ireland to receive the award, with the first given to the Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark in Fermanagh and Cavan in 2015. It was the world's first cross-border geopark.
A geopark is a landscape which is managed holistically for the protection of its geology, the education of people and sustainable development of businesses.
Mourne Gullion Strangford contains three areas of natural beauty; namely Mourne, Ring of Gullion and Strangford Lough and Lecale.
The geopark tells 'A Tale of Two Oceans' across 400 million years of geological history, ranging from the closure of the ancient lapetus Ocean which brought together the island of Ireland's two parts, to the island drifting with the continents through tropical latitudes, the birth of the modern North Atlantic Ocean and the last glaciation which carved the landscape into the area it is today.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Michael Savage said he was delighted that Geopark status was confirmed.
“The status of the Geopark is hard won; since 2012 the Council’s Geopark project, in partnership with the Geological Survey Northern Ireland, has worked on an intense engagement programme with residents and stakeholders,” he said.
“As a result, everyone involved is delighted that Mourne Gullion Strangford has been awarded the UNESCO Global Geopark (UGG) status in recognition of this work and the extraordinary landscape it praises. It puts us on the world stage and firmly on people's bucket lists of places they must see.”
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