Friday 12th May 2017, 10:36am
Scotland’s North West Highlands Geopark has just days left to raise the £70,000 it needs to keep going.
Rock climbers, hill walkers, geologists, students and all kinds of tourists from all over the world visit the Geopark, which takes in around 2000 square kilometres of mountain, peatland, beach, forest and coastline in Wester Ross and Sutherland.
Although it has had UNESCO status since 2015, the Geopark is run as a charity – and has funds to carry on only to the middle of this month. A Crowdfunder bid to raise the £70,000 it needs to carry on has just days to run, until 15th May.
John Muir Trust has given a £1500 conservation grant and has urged its members to support the scheme.
In its appeal the Geopark said:
Without the staff to do the work, we won't be able to continue with our projects which means we can't upgrade the exhibition, make our guidebook, run our guided walks etc. This will in turn jeopardise our UNESCO status as we will be assessed in 2019 and if we haven't helped to develop tourism, education and conservation in our Geopark we won't be fulfilling the function of a UNESCO Global Geopark.
Unlike World Heritage Sites, Geoparks are evaluated every four years and can lose their status if they aren't playing a useful role.
In 2017 we plan to upgrade our visitor centre with virtual reality exhibits allowing you to explore deep time and visit parts of the Geopark you might not otherwise get to. We have produced more Pebble Routes for you to drive or cycle and learn about the landscape. We're putting on weekly guided walks and planning a big Geo-heritage festival for October to go with our Climbing Festival and Earth Science Week. All this in addition to the soil fertility research we're doing with the University of Stirling and Ullapool High School. We have all the project funding to do this, but we need your support to ensure our core activities (staff, office and day to day running costs) are fully funded.
Mike Daniels, Head of Land Management for the John Muir Trust said: “The North West Highlands is an area of outstanding natural beauty, steeped in natural and human history. Its landscape and rock formations attract visitors from all over the world and its well-deserved status as a UNESCO Global Geopark must be protected for the benefit of the people of this area and in the interests of science and education.
“We would urge people who care about this landscape and the people who live there to visit the crowdfunding website and support this vital appeal for funds to retain the staff and maintain the designation.”