Aspiring Geoparks in Australia
A Geopark must ‘demonstrate geological heritage of international significance’ and that the purpose of a Geopark is to ‘explore, develop and celebrate the links between that geological heritage and all other aspects of the area’s natural, cultural and intangible heritage’.
UNESCO Geoparks must use their geological heritage, in connection with all other aspects of the area’s natural and cultural heritage to enhance awareness and understanding of key issues facing society such as using Earth’s resources sustainably, mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing risks related to natural disasters.
The Geotourism Standing Committee assesses the international geological merit of any pre-aspiring UNESCO Geoparks which have been endorsed by the Governing Council. Before a Geopark is formally recognised as such, it must go through an assessment process in order to obtain the formal status of ‘Aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark’.
Previously, there were two regions in Australia which were considered ‘Pre-Aspiring’ Geoparks:
● The Etheridge region of Far North Queensland (roughly 40,000 square kilometres).
● The Warrumbungle region of Northwest NSW (roughly 27,000 square kilometres).
Both of these were subject to intensive assessment during 2017, with the hopes that they will be recognised as Aspiring Geoparks. Having these regions recognised in such a way would provide local people with a sense of pride in their local environment, and would create innovative local enterprises in a way which still preserves the geological resources of the area. However, both have determined to focus on the establishment of geotrails.
In the recently published Australia’s national strategy for the visitor economy, THRIVE 2030 (file:///E:/Libraries/Downloads/thrive-2030-strategy-march-2022%20(3).pdf), the Murchison Georegion in Western Australia, the Glen Innis Highlands (Northern New South Wales) and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Northern Beaches coastline of New South Wales have been flagged to become 3 Australian geo-regions nominated as an Aspiring UNESCO Global Geoparks. Thrive 2030 has also been supported by the new Federal government (https://www.trademinister.gov.au/minister/don-farrell/media-release/communique-tourism-ministers-meeting).
In Western Australia, three local communities are working towards establishing geoparks. Joondalup/Wanneroo Geopark is being lead by their respective local government authorities and officers, Binjareb-Peel in the Peel Deveopment Commission region including Mandurah, Pinjarra and Waroona have a community led steering committee, and the Nannup Geopark also lead by a community group. All groups are moving steadily towards establishing a local geopark before seeking on UNESCO status.