While the concept of geoparks date back to the 1990s, specifically with their establishment in Europe and China, it wasn’t until 2004 that the Global Geoparks Network was formed under UNESCO. Furthermore, the official branding of the UNESCO Global Geopark did not occur until 2015. There are currently 140 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 36 countries, but only three of these are in Canada: Stonehammer in New Brunswick (designated a Global Geopark in 2010), Tumbler Ridge in British Columbia (2014), and Percé in Quebec (2018), signifying that the concept is relatively new in Canada. Members of the Niagara community through Geospatial Niagara have submitted an expression of interest to the Canadian National Committee for Geoparks to become a geopark. This has enabled the group to now market the concept and create a formal application as an “Aspiring Global Geopark”. The Ohnia:kara Aspiring Global Geopark is a non-profit grassroots effort to bring the brand to Niagara.
This policy brief explores the features of a UNESCO Global Geopark, the role of tourism in Niagara’s economy, why Niagara needs a geopark, the costs and benefits, sources of inspiration and next steps.
Author: Carol Phillips
Published By: Niagara Community Observatory
Publication Date: February 2019