Who’s involved and how the Geopark is administered
What is a UNESCO Global Geopark?
A UNESCO Global Geopark is an area, typically a few hundred square miles in extent, with a geological heritage of international significance, which local communities have chosen to celebrate and which has then been endorsed by UNESCO, (or until recently by the EGN, the Europe-wide network). The Global Geoparks Network, established in November 2015 now boasts 161 Geoparks, of which 81 are also members of the EGN which was itself established in 2000. Guided walks, exhibitions, leaflets and other facilities are commonly provided to inform visitors and to help them enjoy the area.
In each Geopark, different organisations from the public, private and charity sectors work together with common objectives and to an agreed plan, seeking funding to carry out a variety of geotourism, education and conservation projects.
The establishment of Fforest Fawr Geopark
Fforest Fawr Geopark was formed as a partnership between Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, the British Geological Survey and Cardiff University together with a host of other organisations with local, regional or national interests.
The Geopark was accepted into the European Geopark Network in October 2005 and subsequently became a member of the UNESCO-assisted Global Geoparks Network in October 2006. It is a signatory to the European Geoparks Charter which guides the way in which it operates. In November 2015 it became one of the 120 founder members of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network, putting it on a par with with World Heritage Sites such as that at Blaenavon at the eastern end of the National Park.
Each Geopark submits itself to a revalidation every four years with a view to ensuring that high standards of operation are maintained. Fforest Fawr Geopark has thus far been through three successful revalidations – in 2008, 2012 and again in 2016. It is currently awaiting the outcome of the 2020 revalidation, which was carried out in late 2021 due to Covid.
Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark aims to promote the wider understanding of the area’s heritage – not just geological, but other aspects of its natural history and the wider cultural heritage – and to encourage the development of sustainable tourism based upon that heritage for the benefit of both residents and visitors to the area.
The Geopark Management Group
The Management Group meets three times a year to consider strategic and policy matters regarding the development of the Geopark. It draws its membership from the following organisations:
- Brecknock Museum & Art Gallery
- Brecon Beacons National Park Authority
- Brecon Beacons Park Society
- Brecon Beacons Tourism
- British Geological Survey
- Cardiff University
- Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust
- Coelbren Miners Welfare & Memorial Hall
- Dyfed Archaeological Trust
- Earth Science Education Forum
- Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust
- Glanamman Town Council (Amman Valley councils)
- Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council
- National Stone Centre
- National Trust
- Natural Resources Wales
- South East Wales RIGS Group
- South Wales Geologists’ Association
- University of Wales Swansea
- Visit Wales
- Welsh Stone Forum
The Geopark works closely with other partners too, including Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales for example.