FIRST Minister Alex Salmond today announced £280,000 in funding to support the two new Geoparks in Shetland and the North West Highlands.
This investment, which will be provided over two years, will allow the Geoparks – designated sites of geological importance which play an essential part in promoting tourism – to continue as members of the UNESCO supported Global and European Geoparks Network.
Mr Salmond said: “Throughout history, deserts, seas and volcanoes have all left their mark on our landscape creating the varied and interesting environment that can influence every part of life. For a country our size, Scotland has some of the most varied geology in the world.
“Geoparks are a fantastic place to investigate our rocks and terrain, to discover how our history has help shape the landscapes we see across Scotland today.”
He continued: “We know that our geology in Scotland is unparalleled across the world in terms of its quality and we should all value our geodiversity. I am delighted to announce funding of £280,000 to support these two Geoparks in Shetland and the North West highlands.
“This announcement demonstrates that the Scottish Government is delivering on a national and local level for communities across Scotland especially in this year, the Year of Natural Scotland.”
Brian Gregson, chairman of Geopark Shetland, said the funding support would allow the geopark to continue delivering social and economic benefits to the wider Shetland community.
George Farlow, chairman of the North West Highlands Geopark, said: “The communities of North West Sutherland and Wester Ross are absolutely thrilled at this new opportunity to demonstrate to the world our Geopark as the “cradle of geology”. The partnership working across the communities here in the North West Highlands Geopark shows what can be achieved by recognising the best practices of Geopark Shetland and the European Geoparks Network, whilst still retaining and enhancing our individuality and unique qualities.
“The funding support we have received from the Scottish Government will enable us to return Scottish Geoparks to the centre stage of global geotourism and geodiversity, under the auspices of UNESCO.”