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UNESCO Global Geoparks are single unified geographical areas and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. These designated areas give local people and communities a sense of pride in their region and strengthen their identification with the area. The creation of innovative local enterprises, new jobs and high quality training courses is stimulated as new sources or revenue are generated through geotourism.
With UNESCO formally creating the Global Global Geoparks program in November 2015, the Global Geoparks Network 2016 conference held in the UK in September afforded the first opportunity to discuss new protocols and key issues for UNESCO Global Geopark nomination. This conference also afforded the opportunity for representatives of Ecotourism Australia's Geotourism Forum to attend given that Australia is now progressing two Pre-Aspiring UNESCO Global Geoparks.
The Geotourism Forum representatives were able to learn from both the experience of existing UNESCO Global Geoparks and other pre-aspiring and aspiring nominations from other countries such as the UK, Canada and the USA. In particular, insights were gleaned about timeframes necessary to develop successful nominations, the imperative of community engagement as well as the emerging issue of geoparks been seen to contributing towards community health and wellbeing.
Given that geopark development in Australia is now being considered as a valuable mechanism to drive regional development, the presentation will address these issues and provide some highly relevant pointers for community groups and government agencies seeking to progress other nominated areas.