Global Network of National Geoparks

French Guest To Decide Bay's Geopark Status

Source : Published :September 13, 2007


Torbay's hopes of gaining global status as a natural wonderland rest of the shoulders of a Frenchman.

Guy Martini, who runs a French geological park, was viewing what the Bay has to offer as it strives to join a Euro-network of geoparks.He visited Torbay on Sunday and Monday to assess how the Bay is using its geology and natural heritage as a regeneration tool, and to improve the quality of life of residents.

The main hosts for the weekend were Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust director Dominic Acland, Mel Border, the trust's geopark coordinator, and Malcolm Hart, a senior geological professor at Plymouth University.

M. Martini, who runs the Reserve Geologique de Haute Provence in France, will pass on his assessment to an advisory group which will recommend approval or not, although there could be conditions tied in to agreement.

M. Martini said he was impressed with the enthusiasm and energy of those involved, as well as what he had seen.

"With all these facts this is almost a guarantee of good development for the future.

"I am impressed with what I have seen and I have a positive feeling for what I have seen but there is a lot of work to do, for sure, and at all levels."

Rosaria Modica from the Madonie Geopark in Sicily, was also due to be part of the inspection but was unable to make the visit.

Ms Border, who has coordinated the bid as well as arranging the weekend inspection, said: "I think we are going to get it. I am very positive.

"I feel the feedback we have had is encouraging and I am sure his recommendation will be positive."

Mr Acland said: "Having a global designation for the Bay would be massive, and would be part of the regeneration of the Bay. It would be a very influential thing to have."

Elected mayor Nick Bye, who ran project meetings and took part in the tour, said the visit to Kents Cavern was the high point, where the geology of the Bay is revealed so dramatically and yet still explained appropriately.

"Success all depends whether we are doing enough. It is a bit like chicken and egg, which comes first, the geopark status, or doing enough to justify it?

"I think we are doing enough but even if we are not successful, the Bay will keep trying."

Mr Powe, owner of Kents Cavern, said: "We may be the smallest geopark if we get the status but we are big in what we have to offer."

In a two-day visit, the hosts showed M. Martini the Bay's geological heritage highlights by water, land and underground, and the educational showcases which explain it all.

The visit included a boat trip to see the sites from the sea, a tour of Berry Head, a walk along a geology trail, Kent's Cavern, Anstey's Cove, Redgate Beach, Walls Hill, and Hopes Nose as well as Torquay Museum, the town's tourism information centre, Living Coasts, and the Riviera Centre. The decision will be announced at a Scottish conference this weekend.