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Plans for Arran to be recognised as a UNESCO Global Geopark are taking shape with key personnel appointed to create a management team that will lead the way in establishing the Geopark status.
The partnership project, run jointly by the Arran Access Trust, National Trust for Scotland and Lochranza Centre CIC, has recruited project manager Niall Moffat, seasonal ranger Aerona Moore and path worker Scott Murdoch to drive the project forward, and which could result in Arran being designated as an area deemed to possess a geological heritage of international value.
The site would have to comply with the requirements set out by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, (UNESCO). Among the requirements are an assessment of the geological sites and a comprehensive management plan for the preservation, protection and the promotion of geo-tourism as well as a co-operation with the local community and the network of other Geoparks throughout the network.
The two-and-a-half year project, undertaken to achieve the accreditation, aims to improve access to, and foster an appreciation of, the geology on Arran. If successful it would mean that Arran would join a list of six Geoparks across the United Kingdom.
Included in the list is the Shetland area consisting of a group of more than 100 islands, 15 of them inhabited. Hailed as being more geologically diverse than any similar sized area in Europe, the Shetland Geopark is dramatic and features sheer cliffs, an extinct volcano and amazing biodiversity. Other accredited Geoparks include the North Pennines, Fforest Fawr, English Riviera, GeoMon, (Isle of Anglesey) and the North West Highlands.
The overall project is scheduled for three years in total and will include interpretation centres at Lochranza, the Brodick Country Park rangers centre and one at the Arran Heritage Museum.
It will also include interpretation boards and signage across Arran as well as six trails which have already been identified as possible options. They include the Newton Point and Fairy Dell loop which incorporates Hutton’s Unconformity and Glen Rosa, Kildonan beach, Corrie shore, Blackwaterfoot and North Arran. The path works will be overseen by Scott Murdoch with the help of two trainees, Trevor and Elliot.
Included in the project will be an Arran Geofest, an annual festival with guided walks, informative talks and school and community engagement with a strong online presence that includes films and social media.
Funding is via the Coastal Communities Fund which currently has £367,000 allocated, £67,000 of which is from partners.