2019 was a big year for us in the North West Highlands Geopark!
This year we hosted our fourth Revalidation mission from the Global Geoparks Network. Every four years a Geopark must be audited by the the Network and UNESCO to ensure it is functioning as a UNESCO Global Geopark. All aspects of our organisation were under scrunity and evaluated by colleagues from Jeju Island Global Geopark (Korea) and Basque Coast Global Geopark (Spain); following a four day visit, they submitted a report to the UNESCO executive board. We hope we will get the green light to keep our UNESCO status for another four years, results will be announced during Spring 2020. Revalidation assessments such as these make sure that all UNESCO Global Geoparks are held to the same high standards and are good places to live in, work in and visit.
As well as our revalidation mission we hosted the UK Committee for UNESCO Global Geoparks in May. This is an annual event and allows us to share knowledge and get some expert advice from other Geoparks. UNESCO Global Geopark representatives arrived from Shetland, North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Forest Fawr, GeoMon, English Riviera and Marble Arch Caves. Aspiring Global Geoparks from Black Country, Jersey, Mourne & Gullion, Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust and the Isle of also joined us.
2019 was also a year focused on organisational resilience; developing robust income streams and capacity building as a business. We are very grateful to have been given an opportunity by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (and National Lottery Players!) to review our governance and management structures and ensure these are fit for purpose as well as up-skilling our current staff and volunteers to ensure we can meet these challenges head on. In May we organised training for new volunteers to work with the Geopark and in October we hosted a workshop for potential partners at the Rock Stop which was really well attended. Our Geopark Coordinator has been undertaking intensive training and the development of our internal systems and plans is almost complete. Geopark volunteers and board members will also benefit from extra training in the new year as we move to more innovative ways of working. We are now looking forward to 2020 as an organisation ready to level-up! If you are interested in getting involved or would like to know more, please contact us.