If you love the North West Highlands, it's landscapes and people and believe it should have UNESCO status, this is the project for you!
The North West Highlands Geopark is the most incredible place for geologists, rock climbers, outdoor adventurers, walkers, families, school children, university students, tourists, locals, everyone really!
We get no funding at all for core staff, nothing from the Government, Local Authority or anywhere else. We have to raise this ourselves. We have been successfully developing income streams by selling products and services but we have more work to do to get over a gap in our finances. Crowdfunding is our last resort and we really need to raise at least £30,000 to survive.
Geoparks exist to tell the story of our landscape, from deep, geological time to more recent human history. Through this they provide 'something to do' for visitors and locals and high-quality educational materials for every stage of life. They bring no extra regulations to a region, but try to build a sustainable future by encouraging everyone to be good stewards of our natural and cultural resources.
Our Geopark has UNESCO status!
A UNESCO Global Geopark is to landscapes and geology what World Heritage Sites are to history and archaeology. There's one big difference though, World Heritage Sites are proposed to be added to the list by the national government but Geoparks are set up and managed by their local communities.
It's the people who live here that were the first to recognise how special the region is and the first to approach UNESCO for accreditation.
It's down to a lot of hard work on the ground; promoting our region, putting on activities, writing interpretation, opening a visitor centre and loads more that makes us a UNESCO Global Geopark. Every four years we get assessed on the quality of our tourism, education program and regional economic development to ensure we meet world class standards.
But - we have a problem.
We need your help and support to keep our Geopark running and be able to keep the services which we provide going.
Without the staff to do the work, we won't be able to continue with our projects which means we can't upgrade the exhibition, make our guidebook, run our guided walks etc etc. This will in turn jeopardise our UNESCO status as we will be assessed in 2019 and if we haven't helped to develop tourism, education and conservation in our Geopark we won't be fulfilling the function of a UNESCO Global Geopark.
Unlike World Heritage Sites, Geoparks are evaluated every 4 years and can lose their status if they aren't playing a useful role.
In 2017 we plan to upgrade our visitor centre with Virtual Reality exhibits allowing you to Explore Deep Time and visit parts of the Geopark you might not otherwise get to. We have produced more Pebble Routes for you to drive or cycle and learn about the landscape. We're putting on weekly guided walks and planning a big Geo-heritage festival for October to go with our Climbing Festival and Earth Science Week. All this in addition to the soil fertility research we're doing with the University of Stirling and Ullapool High School. We have all the project funding to do this, but we need your support to ensure our core activities (staff, office and day to day running costs) are fully funded.
We are a charity and pay our core staff using a mixture of donations and product sales. Currently we have enough to last us until May so things really are urgent.
Please pledge what you can, then come visit us!
You'll be amazed at the depth of time recorded in the rocks, the breath-taking horizons and white sandy beaches. We have three-billion years of our planet's history to explore here and island mountains carved by recent Ice Ages.
Visit on your own to really feel the sense of being in the most sparsely populated region in Western Europe or bring the family on one of our guided walks. There's something for everyone at our visitor centre, the Rock Stop, enjoy free wifi with some tea and cake and learn about the evolution of the landscapes you can see right outside. See how Scotland is connected through its geology and the global geoparks network to the rest of the world.