The Black Country’s bid to become a Global Geopark is strengthening thanks to a number of positive recommendations by UNESCO.
At the beginning of last year, the four Black Country authorities (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton), with the backing of the UNESCO National Commission and the UK other 7 geoparks, submitted an application to become part of the UNESCO Global Geopark family.
Following a visit by UNESCO delegates in the summer of last year 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 a number of positive recommendations in order to further strengthen the Black Country’s application and is giving organisers additional time to implement their recommendations before it goes back to the panel.
The recommendations made by UNESCO aim to strengthen 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. The team has also been encouraged to work more effectively as a single territory in order to manage the whole Black Country area for future generations.
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.
Sarah Norman, chief executive at Dudley Council and a member of ABCA, said: “We thank UNESCO for the positive feedback they have given us to date. One of the most important things we can take from this process so far is that we are recognised as a world class heritage destination and we are moving in the right direction to manage and promote it. UNESCO has recognised the Black Country is globally important in terms of geology, culture and local history and has commended the ‘exceptional work’ of all partners.
“We are taking their recommendations on board and addressing them in order to strengthen our application as we move forward and continue our aspiration to become a part of the UNESCO Global Geopark family.”
There are many world-class features in the Black Country and the Geopark would link many different heritage sites and features across the area to tell the story of the landscape. In the case of the Black Country, the significant part it played in the industrial revolution is at the heart of the bid and the proposed Global Geopark.