The New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO is delighted to announce the establishment of a UNESCO Global Geoparks programme in New Zealand.
“This will bring global recognition to areas of internationally significant geology in New Zealand that meet UNESCO’s criteria,” says Dr Geoff Hicks, Natural Sciences Commissioner, New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO (pictured).
The National Commission has appointed a Geoparks Expert Advisory Panel to encourage and support New Zealand nominations for UNESCO Global Geopark status. Expressions of interest are open until April 2018 and shortlisted applicants will then be invited to develop a full dossier.
The National Commission is able to recommend up to two New Zealand candidates per year for Global Geopark status. The full application process, including assessment by UNESCO, can potentially take a number of years.
“The application process is rigorous, but the advisory panel will provide support to ensure our preferred candidates produce high quality applications,” says Dr Hicks. “Applicants will need to demonstrate that their area has already been functioning as a de facto Global Geopark for at least one year. They are required to provide evidence that their proposed geopark is a geological heritage site of international geological or geomorphological significance, and that their site is managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable local or regional development.
“We’re excited about establishing a UNESCO Global Geoparks programme in Aotearoa. It will help bring the wonders of the Earth to a whole new audience. And because Geoparks are developed with local community support and involvement, it can enhance local people’s sense of pride in their region. Becoming a Geopark also has the potential to promote an area’s sustainable economic development.”
There are currently 127 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 35 countries.