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Katla Geopark, the first and only geopark in Iceland, was admitted into the The Global Geoparks Network during the 10th European Geoparks Conference, which took place in the Gea Norwegica Geopark (Norway) from 16 to 18 September 2011.  The Global Network of National Geoparks, created under the aegis of UNESCO in 2004, now numbers 87 Geopoarks in 27 countries around the world, including 49 Geoparks in 16 European countries.  The application from the Katla Geopark Project was well received and unanimously accepted.

„At the annual meeting it was noted how efficiently the application process for Katla Geopark had been carried out and the strong emphasis on the regional development component and the solid backing of the support system in the area.  Some other geoparks have needed several years of operation before beeing accepted into the network so we are obviously very pleased with this accomplishment“ says Steingerður Hreinsdóttir from the Development Centre of South Iceland, one of the representatives from Katla Geopark at the meeting.
„The Geopark project developed from a pilot study started by the University Centre of South Iceland in 2008.  This part of South Iceland was a focus for study because of negative population trends and the need for new employment opportunities for young people in the area.  We realized that the Geopark philosophy could be a powerful tool in reversing these trends“ says Sigurður Sigursveinsson director of the University Centre of South Iceland.
A preparatory group was formed including representatives from the three municipalities, local tourist service providers and the support system.  The group prepared the application under the project management of Ragnhildur Sveinbjarnardóttir.  A specialist from the European Geoparks Network, Patrick McKeever, was invited to the area in 2009 for consultation and as a result it was decided to send in an application by the 1 December deadline in 2010 and in July 2011 two evalutors fram the network made an inspection of the area and the project.
„A lot of work is ahead for us in the development of Katla Geopark but it includes new opportunities in tourism and local production.  We are looking forward to this challenge that will include the cooperation of all stakeholders“  says Þuríður Aradóttir Tourism and marketing representative of Eastern Rangarthing municipality.
Further information on the Geoparks Network on www.europeangeoparks.org and www.katlageopark.is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From left:  Margarete Patzak UNESCO, Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences; Steingerður Hreinsdóttir Development Centre of South Iceland; Sigurður Sigursveinsson University Centre of South Iceland; Þuríður Aradóttir Eastern Rangarthing municipality; Patrick McKeever EGN Vice Co-ordinator and Nickolas Zouros EGN Co-ordinator.