1. ITV Report

Fforest Fawr Geopark granted similar status to World Heritage sites

Fforest Fawr Geopark in the Brecon Beacons has been recognised as one of the UK's seven Global Geoparks under a new UNESCO initiative.

Fforest Fawr Geopark has been given international recognition.

The programme is the first formal recognition of Global Geoparks and confers on them the same status of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, which includes the likes of Stonehenge and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

The status recognises an area of outstanding geological interest together with its distinct industrial, cultural and archaeological heritage, where the local communities promote the local, unique geology to stimulate economic development in the area.

The new status recognises an area of outstanding geological interest.

I am thrilled that the first decade of our Geopark is marked by this international recognition. The success of our Geopark is based on the strong cooperation between its communities and partner organisations. Our Geopark Festival in May has proved very popular in promoting Fforest Fawr Geopark. Thousands of visitors have enjoyed guided walks and stimulating lectures by experts in various fields. I think this new international designation will inspire us to go from strength to strength.

– Dr Tony Ramsay, Scientific Director of the Fforest Fawr Geopark

Alan Bowring, the Geopark Development Officer, says the park offers much to visitors who come to the area.

The UK's seven Global Geoparks are a national treasure, not just in terms of their geological interest but the enthusiasm and dedication of their local champions who work so hard to maintain them and to make the most of the educational and economic opportunities they offer. They are a great illustration of local communities working very effectively in some of the most remote and beautiful areas of the UK. But I appreciate that they are also a bit of a national secret, not widely recognised by visitors or even by many of those who live within their boundaries. I hope that the UNESCO brand will give our Global Geoparks the same recognition factor as World Heritage Sites - a visible guarantee of their international significance and an assurance that they are great places to visit and explore.

– Dr. Beth Taylor, UK National Commission for UNESCO's Natural Sciences Director