The Black Country’s bid to become a Global Geopark is strengthening thanks to positive recommendations by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).
At the beginning of last year, the four Black Country local authorities (City of Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall) – with the backing of the UNESCO National Commission and the UK’s seven other geoparks – submitted an application to become part of the UNESCO Global Geopark family.
Following a visit by UNESCO delegates in summer 2016 and a presentation to international delegates at a Global Geoparks conference, UNESCO has recognised the Black Country has globally important, world class geological and related cultural heritage, and all the attributes to become a Global Geopark.
The UNESCO Global Geoparks Committee (UGGC), which spearheads the global network, has made positive recommendations to further strengthen the Black Country’s application and is allowing additional time to implement these recommendations before it reports back to the panel.
The recommendations made by UNESCO are aimed at strengthening partnership working across the Black Country and its links with the rest of the world.
Within the next two years, the team has been asked to provide further assurances about the sustainability of a Black Country Global Geopark and to increase awareness and visibility of the sites that form part of it.
UNESCO and the other UK based Global Geoparks will work with the team in the Black Country to ensure it addresses these recommendations and it is operating smoothly within the Global Geoparks structure.
Keren Jones, City of Wolverhampton Council Director for City Economy, said: “It is fantastic to see the Black Country’s heritage recognised in this way.
“City of Wolverhampton Council will now look at the recommendations made by UNESCO and work with our partnering local authorities to strengthen our application to become part of the UNESCO Global Geopark family.
“If UNESCO grant this special status it will put the Black Country on the international map and there will be plenty of scope to attract more tourists to our region and boost the local visitor economy.”
There are many world-class features in the Black Country and the Geopark would link different heritage sites and features across the area to tell the story of the landscape.