Global Network of National Geoparks

The copper coast European geopark, Ireland: a community based initiative

Published :March 7, 2008
D. cowman & J.morris
Copper Coast Geopark Ltd., Knockmahon Lodge, Bunmahon, Co. Waterford, Ireland

Keywords: Copper Coast, communities, local initiatives

The Copper Coast European Geopark (CCEG) is the only current European Geopark established as a community based endeavour, rather than building outward from local or national Government designated and operated territories. It arose out of Copper Coast Tourism (CCT), established by 5 local communities in 1998 to promote the scenery and geo-diversity of the region as an eco-tourism resource. The Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) supported this by publishing pamphlest explaining the regional geology in a simplified manner. CCT developed hiking trails with information sheets and plaques, and a geological park based on the local rocks, while a castle ruin and a fen bog were bought by individual communities for conservation and presentation.

In 2000, the GSI encouraged CCT to apply for designation as a European Geopark. Membership was granted in 2001. This created new opportunities, including a 2004- 2006 INTERREG 3B NW Europe region project, of which a gross budget of about ERU1.7 million is designated to support infrastructural development in the CCEG. Copper Coast Geopark Ltd. Has been established as a registered charity to act as the legal entity to develop these activities and to provide the future operational framework. An office has been established and two staff employed.

The high morale generated by the Geopark initiative has gives rise to significant developments within the local communities. This includes formal twinning of one village with two similar sized villages in German and Austrian Geoparks, as well as the establishment of the Copper Coast Women's Initiative. For more on the communities and their achievements, see the community website and the Geopark website,