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Discovery Aspiring Geopark project manager Amanda McCallum speaking at the AGM this month.
Discovery Aspiring Geopark project manager Amanda McCallum speaking at the AGM this month. - Jonathan Parsons

Board holds second AGM amid bid to become internationally certified

BONAVISTA, N.L.

While the Discovery Aspiring Geopark Inc. (DAG) has been over 13 years in the making, with a board of members working tirelessly to secure UNESCO World recognition for the upper half of the Bonavista Peninsula, you could say—with the unique formations of fossils and rocks in the region—it’s actually been half a billion years in the making.

Now, after the DAG held its second annual general meeting this month, they are closer than ever to potentially becoming a UNESCO Geopark.

This past year saw a national site evaluation, which pre-empts a recommendation to the international selection committee. After this application is complete this fall, there will be an international site visit sometime in summer 2019, with a decision made next September.

UNESCO will officially announce global Geopark designations in April 2020.

The confirmation could be vitally important for tourism, as Geoparks are somewhat of a roadmap for tourists—such as those from China who don’t have national parks and could be attracted to areas which have Geoparks, like they do in their country.
There will be 10 developed sites within the region of the park—five of which are currently outlined in various areas of the peninsula. These include panels showing the significance of the Lisbon earthquake on Bonavista, the King’s Cove Lighthouse Trail, Root Cellars in Elliston, Haootia fossils in Port Union, and the Gun Hill Trail in Trinity.

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Board member John Norman said at the meeting there’s business in Geopark and opportunity for growth within the region.

He even highlighted locally made products that can be sold in the future tied to the place, culture and natural environment, taking advantage of the future of the Geopark in the area.

Board member Martha Nelson says the Geopark is also about community and sustainability.

She adds they are interested in getting people involved—rolling out a membership program with the Geopark.

“This really is a community initiative and we’d love to have as many people who want to get involved working with us to help get this project done,” she said.

In addition to laying out the path to certification over the next year, the board elected new members the night following the AGM, leading the group into the next year of eligibility for UNESCO status and beyond.

Bonavista Peninsula Geopark at a glance

• The Geopark would include the upper half of the Bonavista Peninsula;

• 1150 square kilometres;

• 280 kilometres of coastline;

• 27 communities—seven incorporated municipalities;

• 8,000 inhabitants;

• Elevation as high as 350 metres.

Information courtesy of Discovery Aspiring Geopark Inc.

Jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca

Twitter: @jejparsons

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