Minister Sean Canney TD, Minister of State for Natural Resources at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, has announced the 2019 Geological Survey Ireland Geoheritage funding awards at an event in Maam Cross, Co Galway, on Thursday 7 February 2019.
The funds are available under the Geopark Grant Scheme in Geological Survey Ireland. They support the development and publication of educational and outreach materials by small community groups, established geotourism sites, aspiring geoparks and UNESCO Global Geoparks.
The aim of the fund is to encourage the telling of the Irish geological story, improve the understanding of geoscience and to engage with groups throughout the country. Funds with a total value of €65,000 will be awarded to thirteen groups across eleven counties this year.
Projects include a citizen science river observation pilot scheme in Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, interpretive signs at Cousane Gap in the Sheehy Mountains west Cork, and development of a guide to the geological heritage of Sligo town.
Minister Canney TD said: “It is great to see this community involvement with Geological Survey Ireland. It allows for meaningful engagement with geoscientists to use the data collected over the decades for local applications. It encourages local groups to take ownership of their heritage and to see the beauty and value in small, local stories.”
GSI Director Koen Verbruggen said he was delighted the Geopark Grant Scheme had been expanded this year and he looked forward to the results of the community collaborations. “The Geological Survey works throughout the country and this is one way to give back to communities, to foster good relationships, and to encourage people to work with us to use the data, maps and expertise to develop local tourism and educational resources.”
“Geology is the foundation of the heritage of Ireland and should be celebrated as part of who we are. Our tourism industry is influenced by the landscape and the underlying rocks, and the geological and geographical features give rise to our agriculture, food, place names and traditions. Thanks to the broad diversity of geology in Ireland and the relative recentness of the shaping of the landscape, every townland has the potential for an interesting geoheritage story. Initially, the fund was available only to the three UNESCO Global Geoparks and aspiring geoparks but was opened to all groups this year in an effort to promote geodiversity, geoheritage and geoscience education” continued Koen Verbruggen.
The event at Maam Cross was part of the annual Irish UNESCO Global Geopark Forum.
This all-island forum brings together the UNESCO Geoparks and aspiring geoparks to discuss and share good practice in terms of finances, management, community engagement and education. The forum is hosted this year by Joyce Country and Western Lakes aspiring geopark.