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Shetland UNESCO Global Geopark
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3 billion years in the making...

Exceptional and accessible

Eshaness coastline, Northmavine. Copyright Paul Harvey. Eshaness coastline, Northmavine. Copyright Paul Harvey.ZoomFrom the highest sheer cliffs in Britain to the best ‘hands on’ exposure of the Great Glen Fault, Shetland is packed with an incredibly varied geology spanning almost 3 billion years.

Where else can you walk on an ancient ocean floor, explore an extinct volcano and stroll across shifting sands all in the space of a day? Along the way you will discover some of the most stunning scenery in the UK and find out how our geology has influenced every part of life in Shetland.


Geopark Shetland is managed by Shetland Amenity Trust. 

ZoomA Geopark is a territory which has outstanding geological heritage, and uses that heritage to provide sustainable economic benefits to the area. The European Geoparks Network was established in 2000 to protect geodiversity, promote an understanding of geological heritage and support sustainable development through geological tourism and education.  Shetland was admitted to the European Geoparks Network in 2009 in recognition of its internationally important and diverse geology. The rigorous application process tested both the quality of the Geopark, and Shetland Amenity Trust’s capacity to manage it.  The European Geoparks Network has 54 members and that number is growing every year.  It is part of the wider Global Geoparks Network, which is supported by UNESCO.

Tourism has significant potential to generate future growth and employment within Europe and Geoparks have an important part to play.  The European Commission is committed to maintaining Europe as the World’s top tourist destination and this is likely to generate funding opportunities to support and develop the heritage tourism sector. Geopark Shetland is well placed to take full advantage of such opportunities and develop innovative projects which conserve and add value to Shetland’s heritage to the benefit of Shetland residents and visitors alike.

ZoomSince development of Geopark Shetland began in 2006, £500,000 of funding has been secured from outside Shetland to deliver interpretive and educational projects and activities.  In addition, the Geopark has helped communities and schools in Yell, Unst and Northmavine to secure £15,000 from within and beyond Shetland for local projects.

Future development of the Geopark by Shetland Amenity Trust is based on the Geopark Shetland Strategy and Action Plan, the Geopark Shetland Marketing Strategy and the Geopark Shetland Geodiversity Audit. These are linked closely with the Shetland Islands Council Corporate Plan, the Shetland Structure Plan and the Shetland Cultural Strategy.

If you have any questions about Geopark Shetland or would like to find out about getting involved with any of the projects, please contact the Geology Project Officer.

On 17th November 2015, UNESCO announced a new programme, which creates “UNESCO Global Geoparks.” This is the first new UNESCO designation of its kind to be established in over 40 years and puts Global Geoparks alongside UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Previously operating with the informal support of UNESCO, the status of Global Geoparks will now be formally recognised under the new programme. The new designation was approved at the 38th Session of the UNESCO General Conference in Paris