World sites from Ireland to Brazil aim to get on UN Geoparks list

16 Sep 2011

The Cliffs of Moher glisten off the West of Ireland's Co Clare coastline

From the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher in Ireland to Tuscany’s Alpi Apuane mountain range, a glacier-covered volcano in Iceland and a mineral-rich outcrop in Brazil and the Aras in Iran, 16 new world sites are vying to glean a place on the UN-backed Geoparks List.

The 16 sites will be examined today in Norway during the Bureau of the Global Geopark Network three-day event in the Gea Norwegica Geopark.

The Geoparks network, first devised by UNESCO in 2004, has 78 site members from 26 countries.
The 16 candidates for 2011 are:

  1. Carnic Alps (Austria),
  2. Bodoquena-Pantanal (Brazil)
  3. Quadrilatero Ferrifero (Brazil)
  4. Hong Kong park (China)
  5. Tianzhushan (China)
  6. The parks of Bauges (France)
  7. Chablais park (France)
  8. Katla (Iceland)
  9. Batur (Indonesia)
  10. Pacitan (Indonesia)
  11. Aras (Iran)
  12. The Burren and Cliffs of Moher (Ireland)
  13. Alpi Apuane (Italy)
  14. Muroto (Japan)
  15. Sierra Norte di Sevilla Geopark (Spain)
  16. Villuercas Ibores Jara (Spain)

Katla Volcano Iceland
Katla Volcano is in southern Iceland under Mýrdalsjökull glacier.
It is considered the most dangerous volcano in Iceland.
To qualify for the Geopark label, sites must present important geological heritage, and benefit from a sound management structure and economic development strategy with particular emphasis on sustainable tourism, according to the UN.

Last year, the Bureau added 11 new sites, ranging from subterranean rivers in China and Ice Age-shaped landscapes in Finland to volcanic Jeju island in the Republic of Korea and mountainous landscapes, cave formations and coastal features in Italy’s Apennine Mountains.

Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher is also a finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature 2011 campaign. Voting is open until 11 November 2011.

Bodoquena Brazil

Pantanal Brazil Tourism Image courtesy of

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic