Ynys Môn hopes to retain Geopark status after UNESCO visit

YNYS Môn’s coveted Global Geopark status, celebrating its unique geology and culture, was reassessed by UNESCO ambassadors last week.

It is now hoped that the visit will help the island secure its coveted status for a further four years.

Ynys Môn has a unique and internationally important geo-heritage and, arguably, has the greatest geodiversity for its size of anywhere in Europe.

Residents and visitors tread daily on rocks spanning four eras, 12 geological periods and a staggering 1,800 million years of history.

UNESCO’s international experts from Austria and Croatia carried out a rigorous audit of its UNESCO Global Geopark status; GeoMôn.

They toured the island with GeoMôn Director, Dr Margaret Wood, visiting several sites of outstanding geology, natural landscapes and industrial heritage, including South Stack, Ynys Llanddwyn, Mynydd Parys, and the GeoMôn watch tower and museum at Amlwch Port.

While by no means a foregone conclusion, Dr Wood, of Llansadwrn, is thrilled at the prospect of retaining UNESCO Global Geopark status.

Dr Wood, who founded GeoMôn in 2005, said: “We have a dedicated team of volunteers who are passionate about the island, its people and its geology.

“A huge amount of work has gone into earning revalidation of our UNESCO Global Geopark status. I am grateful to all who are involved.

“It is a remarkable accolade, and puts Ynys Môn right up there with the finest the world has to offer in terms of geology, scenery and heritage.

“It is recognition of the considerable progress we have made in recent years in developing awareness, both on and off the island, of Ynys Môn’s extraordinary geology, and in facilitating and developing geo-tourism and education.

“If successful, this revalidation – which lasts for another four years – will give us a firm foundation upon which to promote awareness of all that our Island has to offer.”

A Geopark is an area with an expressed geological heritage and a strategy for sustainable economical development and promotion of that development to the benefit of the community.

GeoMôn is one of seven in the UK.

It was founded in 2005, was accepted into the European Geopark Network in 2009, and in 2010, gained Global Geopark Network status under the auspices of UNESCO.

It is one of more than 50 European members and is the second in Wales, after Fforest Fawr Geopark in the Brecon Beacons area of mid-Wales.

GeoMôn raises awareness of Ynys Môn’s geological heritage by producing leaflets describing a particular area or feature, and by leading walks and creating trails.

It works in partnership with other groups that have similar aspirations to improve the environment or economy.

Economic Development and Tourism portfolio holder, Councillor Carwyn Jones, added: “As a key partner and supporter of GeoMôn, it was a pleasure to welcome the UNESCO officials to our island, and help the process of, hopefully, retaining our global Geopark status for another four years.

“Retaining this prestigious UNESCO status would undoubtedly put Ynys Môn firmly on the world map and boost both our tourism sector and local businesses.”

North Wales Chronicle | Anglesey