Geoparks are geographical areas with geology of outstanding value. Geoparks are community owned and open to everyone. They take a community-led approach to protecting and promoting the very best of our geology.
A UNESCO Global Geoparks Programme has been established in New Zealand.
UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.
Geoparks promote all aspects of their region’s natural and cultural heritage.
Activities that can be considered typical of a Geopark are mostly geotourism or educational based. These include:
Natural Science Commissioner Geoff Hicks shares more information on Geoparks:
UNESCO Global Geoparks offer opportunities to:
Successful applicants will automatically become part of the Global Geoparks Network. Its objectives are to:
Members of the Network are entitled to use the registered ‘UNESCO Global Geopark’ brand as a mark of quality. Members benefit from the use of common promotional tools and have a forum for finding new partners for international cooperation, exchange of experience and for seeking funding.
New Zealand applications for UNESCO Global Geopark status must be endorsed by the National Commission. UNESCO is currently considering Waitaki Whitestone Aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark’s application dossier and it is expected that an assessment visit will take place when COVID-19 restrictions allow. The National Commission is not accepting nominations until after Waitaki Whitestone has completed the process.
Expressions of Interest for outstanding New Zealand sites and landscapes that are interested in becoming a UNESCO Global Geopark will open again in mid 2023.
In submitting an Expression of Interest applicants must answer questions about their proposed geopark site, backed up by evidence, examples and endorsements.
You will need to explain why your site is of national and international significance and offer current and proposed examples of community engagement and management.
If your Expression of Interest is successful, you will then be required to develop a full dossier.
The National Commission for UNESCO may nominate up to two New Zealand sites and landscapes per year.
If your proposed Global Geopark is recommended by the National Commission, your institution must cover the cost of travelling and accommodation for two experts from Europe who will undertake a field evaluation. Sites are re-evaluated every four years.
Successful applicants are required to join the Global Geoparks Network. The annual membership fee is approximately €1500, which includes an annual contribution to UNESCO.
The Global Geoparks Network General assembly meets every two years (parallel to the International Geoparks Conference) and participation by a representative from each geopark at all meetings is obligatory.
Still have questions? See UNESCO’s website for FAQs on the Global Geoparks programme or email us.