Trust urges public to help North West Highlands Geopark
Geopark urgently needs public help - funding deadline now extended to 5 June!
The John Muir Trust is calling on its members, supporters and the wider public to help safeguard the future of a major UNESCO site which brings geologists, students, rock climbers, hillwalkers and other visitors from all over the world to the North West Highlands.
The North West Highlands Geopark won its coveted UNESCO status in 2015, a designation estimated to be worth £8.7 million a year to UK economy through its seven UNESCO Global Geoparks. The North West Highlands Geopark brings in tourism revenue and project funding directly into scattered local communities who live in the area.
The Geopark has plans to upgrade its visitor centre, continue its programme of weekly guided walks, deepen its scientific research into soil fertility in partnership with Stirling University and Ullapool High School, organise a major geo-heritage festival as part of its annual October Climbing Festival and Earth Science Week, and develop self-guided trails – ‘Pebble Routes’ – for motorists and cyclists.
But with temporary core funding from the Scottish Government now ended, the Geopark urgently needs public financial support to continue its work. With UNESCO scheduled to carry out its four-year evaluation in 2019, the designation could be in jeopardy if funding for staff and facilities fails to materialise.
The John Muir Trust, which looks after two properties in the area – the dramatic three-peak mountain, Quinag, and the spectacular Sandwood Bay – has awarded the Geopark a conservation grant of £1500.
George Farlow, Chair of the North West Highlands Geopark, said: “This grant will help strengthen our UNESCO Global Geopark. We are delighted to work in partnership with the John Muir Trust. We support the work they do with the Coigach-Assynt Living Landscape Partnership and will continue to work with them in delivering a sound management plan for their Sandwood and Quinag estates within the North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark.”
Dr Laura Hamlet, Geopark officer said: “The grant awarded by the John Muir Trust has come at a really critical time for our UNESCO Global Geopark and represents a real boost to our crowdfunding appeal.”
The John Muir Trust is now asking the wider public to support the Geopark’s crowdfunding appeal, which needs to raise £30,000 by Monday 5 June.*
Mike Daniels, Head of Land Management for the John Muir Trust said: “The North West Highlands is an area of outstanding natural beauty, steeped in natural and human history. Its landscape and rock formations attract visitors from all over the world and its well-deserved status as a UNESCO Global Geopark must be protected for the benefit of the people of this area and in the interests of science and education.
“We would urge people who care about this landscape and the people who live there to visit the crowdfunding website and support this vital appeal for funds to retain the staff and maintain the designation.”
* 16 May 2017 update: The North West Highlands Geopark fundraising drive has been extended until 5 June with a revised total £30,000 - read more.