Geopark twins with Fermanagh counterpart

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 June, 2012, 12:00am


Surprising as it may be, 'Asia's World City' Hong Kong is not twinned with any other major city in the world. However, this has not stopped it from partnering with a small Northern Irish county called Fermanagh.

The Hong Kong Global Geopark twinned with the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark in Fermanagh to foster a closer relationship with members of the Global Geoparks Network. Representatives from both geopark management authorities met at the Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre this month to sign the agreement, aimed at strengthening their common interests in promoting tourism, conservation, education and sustainable development.

A 'geopark' is a unique natural area with special geological significance and natural and cultural landscapes, and serves the three objectives of conservation, education and sustainable development.

Fermanagh District Council and Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department hoped the twinning arrangement would serve as a conduit to reinforce co-operation and communication between the two geoparks, with the common goal of promotion, management and development.

Marble Arch Caves boasts some of the finest natural landscapes in Britain and Ireland and offers a window into the area's 650-million-year past. It joined the Global Geoparks Network in 2004.

'Establishing a partnership between the two geoparks will help strengthen our existing relationship as well as offering further collaboration opportunities,' an Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department spokesman said.

'This will be achieved through sharing scientific information and experience in best management practices, as well as collaborating in areas such as tourism promotion, research, education and training.'

The Hong Kong Global Geopark officially opened on November 3, 2009 and is one of China's 183 national geoparks.

It includes two regions covering eight geo-areas, each with unique geological features.

Joining the national geopark network has enabled it to gain and exchange experience on preservation of valuable geological and topographical resources, promoting awareness of earth science and fostering the development of eco-tourism.