Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark awarded new UNESCO designation


The Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark has been designated as a UNESCO site following a vote at the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) General Conference in Paris today (17 November 2015).

The designation means that the Clare County Council managed Geopark, along with Ireland’s two other Geoparks the Copper Coast Geopark and Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, is now a UNESCO Global Geopark and is now at the same level as other UNESCO designated sites such as Newgrange and the Giant’s Causeway.

The news has been welcomed by Cllr. James Breen, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, who said: “As a Geopark, the Burren is very much part of a global community that shares knowledge and expertise on heritage management and sustainable development, leading to well-managed protected landscapes with preserved local heritage. This approach, combined with a good working relationship with communities throughout the Burren has established the Burren as the thriving, sustainable destination it is today.”

“I want to congratulate Clare County Council, the Geological Survey of Ireland, Failte Ireland, the Office of Public Works, the National Monuments Service, The Heritage Council, National University Galway and University College Dublin, the Burren Ecotourism Network, local businesses and the community for their work to establish a solid, sustainable and vibrant tourism infrastructure in the Burren,” said Cllr. Breen.

Tom Coughlan, Chief Executive, Clare County Council commented: “Clare County Council has been working in partnership and collaboration with other agencies in the Burren since 2006 to develop a truly sustainable tourism destination that gives direct benefits to the local community. This work first led to Geopark status being awarded to the Burren and the securing of vitally important EU LIFE funding, and now its designation as a UNESCO site.”

“The team at the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark has put sustainability at the centre of everything it has been working to achieve in recent years. Their efforts have been recognised locally, national and internationally and Clare County Council looks forward to working with them and the wider community in promoting the future, sustainable management of this important and geologically significant region,” he added.

Carol Gleeson, Manager, Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark said: “We are very proud of the fact that the Burren and Cliffs of Moher is now one of 120 UNESCO Global Geoparks across the world. This new designation will act as a catalyst for promoting the sustainable, community based tourism development of the Burren, using the already successful UNESCO brand as a mechanism for sharing this wonderful landscapes with the world.”

“UNESCO Geopark status is more than a designation, it is membership of a worldwide network where knowledge sharing on heritage management and sustainable development takes a central role. From our participation in the Global Geopark Network we have gained great insights that have helped us in our work of balancing conservation and tourism in the Burren region,” she added.

Professor Patrick McKeever, Chief of Section of Earth Science and Geo-Hazards Risk Reduction at UNESCO explained: “UNESCO has, for the first time since the signing of the World Heritage Convention in 1972, created a new site designation, the UNESCO Global Geopark. These are areas where the memories of our planet are written but they are also living areas, with vibrant communities, and strategies to promote sustainable economic development and are linked together in a worldwide network of cooperation.”

“In Ireland, the three UNESCO Global Geoparks have geological heritage of international value but they all face different challenges,” he added. “The Burren & Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark has the challenge of managing the visitors to this magnificent part of Ireland in a way that doesn’t diminish the visitor experience or damage the environment or the quality of life for those who live here. The Global Geopark has facilitated many local initiatives here which not only offer the visitor a wider range of things to do and the chance to stay longer, but do so in a way that is inclusive of the local communities and helps spread the benefit of tourism wider.”

Meanwhile, the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark is hosting the Irish Global Geoparks Annual Seminar at the Falls Hotel. The seminar will kick-off on Thursday evening with a dinner in which guest speaker Professor Patrick McKeever, Chief of Earth Sciences with UNESCO will outline the benefits of this designation for Global Geoparks worldwide.