UNESCO Global Geoparks are internationally recognised places with unique geology, landscapes, history and culture. Geoparks are managed with a focus on education, conservation, sustainable tourism and community engagement. Geopark status is a UNESCO designation and is revalidated every 4 years. Our latest re-validation visit was in May of 2023.
Geoparks spend the time in between each UNESCO re-validation building their portfolio of sustainable and community based projects and working on the recommendations given to them during their last evaluation. One of the recommendations from the 2019 re-validation visit to the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark was to improve communication. Since stepping into the role of communications officer with the Geopark, I have been working through this checklist and have been communicating our activities, research, collaborations and sustainable programmes through various print and digital media.
In the weeks leading up to our May 2023 re-validation, It was all systems go. I was busy finishing off some design work, printing and distributing communication materials, and devising a social media communications around the visit.
The evaluators arrived on a Thursday evening and the itinerary for their visit lasted until Monday afternoon. In addition to being a point of contact for any questions they had about our Geopark activities, I also called to each of the visitor experiences on the itinerary. I worked with management at each location on a plan of action and any setups that were required.
The visitor experiences I worked with throughout this weekend included The Cliffs of Moher Experience, Aillwee Burren Experience, The Burren Centre, Caherconnell Stone Fort, Doolin Cave, The Falls Hotel and Spa, The Roadside Tavern, The Burren Smokehouse and the Michael Cusack Centre.
Throughout the weekend I documented each activity and published them on social media. Posts were widely shared by members of the local communities, Visit Clare and the Global Geopark Network.
In September 2023 we got the good news that we were successful in our re-validation mission and have maintained the designation as a UNESCO Global Geopark.