Global Network of National Geoparks

The Lochaber Geopark seeks to maximise

Source Published :February 15, 2007

The Lochaber Geopark Association (LGA) has carried out considerable activity and planning in order to maximise the benefit from Lochaber's rich geological heritage. The LGA seeks to encourage and support the sensitive interpretation of Lochaber's geology, thereby delivering social, economic and environmental benefits to the area. These activities will include the promotion of geotourism as well as promoting awareness and appreciation of the links between geological/natural/cultural heritage, the landscape and land use. In addition it seeks to encourage educational initiatives, training opportunities and research activities that relate to Lochaber's geology and geomorphology as well as to raise awareness both locally and outwith the area. This application relates to two specific aspects of the project. Part one seeks funding for the Project Officer to allow delivery of the objectives contained within the Business Plan ie the creation of interpretative, educational and expressive materials, structures and events. The LGA has close links with the University of the Highlands and Islands and this is seen as a key mechanism to deliver many of the training objectives. In addition, close links are being built with the schools and it is intended that 'rock boxes' will be given to many of the schools as part of this initiative. Part two relates to the development and print of an interpretative map and booklet which will deliver many of the above objectives and which will deliver a critical income stream for the LGA. Aimed at the 'ordinary person' the publication will bring the geology to life highlighting why it has resulted in our landscape today and why it is so important to understand and protect it. This project is considered entirely complementary to Lochaber's title as the 'Outdoor Capital of the UK' and fits well within the Lochaber Tourism Action Plan and Lochaber Economic Strategy.

Lochaber profile:

In January 2004 a public meeting was held in the Council Chambers in Fort William of the UK to consider the suggestion that Lochaber should seek to create its own Geopark. That evening saw the setting up of a steering group, and in May 2004 Lochaber Geopark Association was formerly constituted. The association is committed to increasing local and visitor appreciation and understanding of the rich geological heritage found within Lochaber.

As Lochaber's initiative gathers steam, the association is striving to win UNESCO accreditation of their efforts and have Lochaber recognised in the near future as a member of the European Geopark Network.

Lochaber has a magnificent geological heritage. The Parallel Roads of Glen Roy and the Great Glen Fault are well known, the lavas and granites of Glencoe, Ben Nevis and Glen Etive are very special too, as are the younger igneous rocks found in Ardnamurchan, and the Small Isles. The whole area is popular with visitors not only because of its spectacular scenery, but also because of the superb opportunities it offers for geological education and research. Unravelling the story behind the local igneous and metamorphic rocks has helped our understanding of the very complex processes involved in the formation of large mountain chains

Glencoe is a stunning visual gateway to Lochaber Geopark. The ancient lavas, massive volcanic crater and glacially carved landscape are almost worthy of geopark status in their own right. This very special place, in the care of The National Trust for Scotland, is a key feature of Lochaber Geopark Association’s bid for European Geopark status.