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Scottish Government Announces Geopark Funding

Welcome to Geopark Shetland, at Sumburgh AirportThe First Minister today confirmed funding of £280,000 to support two Geoparks in Shetland and the North West Highlands.

This investment, which will be provided over two years, will allow the Geoparks – which play an essential part in promoting tourism – to continue as valuable members of the UNESCO supported Global and European Geoparks Network.

Speaking from Shetland, First Minister Alex Salmond said:

"Throughout history, deserts, seas and volcanoes have all left their mark on our landscape creating the varied and interesting environment that can influence every part of life. For a country our size, Scotland has some of the most varied geology in the world.

"Geoparks are a fantastic place to investigate our rocks and terrain, to discover how our history has help shape the landscapes we see across Scotland today.

"We know that our geology in Scotland is unparalleled across the world in terms of its quality and we should all value our geodiversity. I am delighted to announce funding of £280,000 to support these two Geoparks in Shetland and the North West highlands.

"This announcement demonstrates that the Scottish Government is delivering on a national and local level for communities across Scotland especially in this year, the Year of Natural Scotland."

A Geopark is an area of outstanding geological heritage. Geoparks use this heritage to benefit local people and promote sustainable development via tourism and education initiatives.

Geoparks are valuable not only because of their significant geological features, but also because they demonstrate close links between geodiversity and natural and cultural heritage.

Stunning geology at Eshaness Cliffs Stunning geology at Eshaness Cliffs Zoom Brian Gregson, Chairman, Geopark Shetland, said:

"Geopark Shetland is delighted to have secured this support from the Scottish Government. It enables us to continue delivering social and economic benefits to the Shetland Community through lifelong learning and geotourism.

"It also allows us to capitalise on the many development opportunities that result from being a member of the Global Geoparks Network, supported by UNESCO. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government and the North West Highlands Geopark over the next two years to ensure the long term sustainability of the Scottish Geoparks."

George Farlow, Chairman, North West Highlands Geopark said :

"The communities of North West Sutherland and Wester Ross are absolutely thrilled at this new opportunity to demonstrate to the world our Geopark as the "cradle of geology". The partnership working across the communities here in the North West Highlands Geopark shows what can be achieved by recognising the best practices of Geopark Shetland and the European Geoparks Network, whilst still retaining and enhancing our individuality and unique qualities.

"The funding support we have received from the Scottish Government will enable us to return Scottish Geoparks to the centre stage of global geotourism and geodiversity, under the auspices of UNESCO."

The announcement is one of a number being made during the visit to Shetland by the Scottish Government's Ministerial Cabinet. Further visits to Hawick, Campbeltown and Fraserburgh will be taking place over the remainder of the summer.