Geop­ark as­ses­sors visit Lochaber

The Oban Times - - News -

LOCHABER could get UNESCO geop­ark sta­tus fol­low­ing a visit by two as­ses­sors at the week­end.

Pro­fes­sor Zhang Jian­ping from Bei­jing Univer­sity and Dr Bab­bis Fas­soulas from the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum in Her­ak­lion, Crete, were eval­u­at­ing Lochaber Geop­ark’s suit­abil­ity to be­come a mem­ber of the UNESCO Global Geop­ark Net­work on Satur­day June 18 and Sun­day June 19.

A geop­ark is an area which con­tains a large num­ber of ge­o­log­i­cal sites of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance in terms of their sci­en­tific qual­ity, rar­ity, aes­thetic ap­peal and/or ed­u­ca­tional value, which brings ben­e­fits to com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses through tourism and ed­u­ca­tional ini­tia­tives.

Be­com­ing part of the UNESCO brand would be a huge ac­co­lade for Lochaber. Geop­ark sta­tus would en­hance the area’s rep­u­ta­tion as a high qual­ity des­ti­na­tion to vis­i­tors from around the globe, not only for its ge­ol­ogy but also its cul­tural her­itage.

The week­end be­gan on Fri­day June 17 when the vis­i­tors were wel­comed at a re­cep­tion in the newly re­fur­bished geop­ark vis­i­tor cen­tre. On Sun­day Jim Blair, chair­man of the Lochaber geop­ark, un­veiled the geop­ark’s new­est in­ter­pre­ta­tion panel and view­point in Ken­tallen.

Lochaber has a rich ge­o­log­i­cal her­itage go­ing back to Charles Dar­win vis­it­ing the Par­al­lel Roads in Glen Roy in 1838, so the group headed off to Roy Bridge on Sun­day to show their guests the area and visit the Dar­win’s Rest Cof­fee Shop.

Later, the vis­i­tors were taken on a boat trip from Fort Wil­liam to Glen­coe. Mr Blair told The Oban

Times: ‘Coun­cil­lor Thomas MacLen­nan waved us off on our boat trip and the vis­i­tors were lucky enough to be some of the first peo­ple to use the new pon­toons in town.

‘The boat was very fast, and I have never seen any­one smile as much as they did when we were trav­el­ling to Glen­coe.’

Pro­fes­sor Jian­ping and Dr Fas­soulas also saw some of Lochaber’s wildlife, stop­ping off at the Black Rock, on the way to Glen­coe, to see seals.

Mr Blair said: ‘We did as well as we could have hoped. Now we just have to hope we get the ac­co­lade. We won’t find out if we have re­ceived the sta­tus un­til April next year.’

If suc­cess­ful, Lochaber Geop­ark will join two other Scot­tish UNESCO geop­arks – North West High­land Geop­ark and Shet­land Geop­ark.

Pho­to­graph: Al­bright­side Pho­tog­ra­phy

The new in­ter­pre­ta­tion and view­point at Ken­tallen is un­veiled by geop­ark chair­man Jim Blair, cen­tre, with UNESCO as­ses­sors, Dr Bab­bis Fas­soulas from the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum, Her­ak­lion Crete, left, and Pro­fes­sor Zhang Jian­ping from Bei­jing Univer­sity, China.

Pho­to­graph: Al­bright­side Pho­tog­ra­phy

Left to right: Coun­cil­lor Thomas MacLen­nan, Pro­fes­sor Zhang Jian­ping, Dr Bab­bis Fas­soulas and Lochaber Geop­ark chair­man Jim Blair at the geop­ark shop in Fort Wil­liam High Street.

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