Fforest Fawr Geopark in the Brecon Beacons has had its coveted status renewed by the European Geoparks Network (EGN), seven years after the park was first granted membership of the continent-wide umbrella organisation.
The EGN made its decision in September after reassessing the Waterfalls Centre in Pontneddfechan, the range of established geo-trails, the distribution and quality of interpretation panels throughout the Geopark, its role in geo-conservation and in particular the work being done with local communities.
The successful bid is the result of effective partnership working between various bodies from the public and private sectors, say the organisations behind it.
Brecon Beacons National Park Authority's Fforest Fawr Geopark Development Officer Alan Bowring said:
'I'm delighted with our success. The EGN's report highlights how communities are playing an ever stronger role in the life of the Geopark - ultimately the Geopark is here for the community and its success is starting to bring local economic benefits.'
John Cook, Chief Executive of Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, added:
'We're absolutely thrilled to receive our revalidation. The glowing report from the EGN committee is testament to the hard work and dedication of all our staff, partners and communities who have worked extremely hard to regain this accreditation.'
And Julie James, Park Authority Chairman, chipped in:
'The Fforest Fawr Geopark and its rich heritage is a real asset to Brecon Beacons National Park – as is evidenced by the growing popularity of the yearly Fforest Fawr Geopark Festival. The varied landscape in the Geopark is truly unique, and well worthy of this revalidation.'
So what is a geopark anyway? You may well ask.
We consulted the EGN website in an attempt to find out.
Apparently it's an area with a coherent geological identity of particular scientific, educational or scenic value (or words to that effect). It should play an active role in local economic development 'through enhancement of a general image linked to the geological heritage and the development of geotourism'. And it must 'work with local enterprises to promote and support the creation of new by-products linked with the geological heritage in a complimentary spirit with the other European Geoparks Network members.'
Now you know.