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The waiting game: After UNESCO evaluation visit, aspiring Geopark waits for possible certification

The Discovery Aspiring Geopark board and executive, along with MHA Christopher Mitchelmore and MP Churence Rogers (back) and front, from left to right: Jeff Hunston, Kana Furusawa and Nikolaos Zouros.
The Discovery Aspiring Geopark board and executive, along with MHA Christopher Mitchelmore and MP Churence Rogers (back) and front, from left to right: Jeff Hunston, Kana Furusawa and Nikolaos Zouros. - Jonathan Parsons
BONAVISTA, N.L. —

Having now entertained the site evaluators from UNESCO, all the preparations for the Discovery Aspiring Geopark Inc. (DAGI) of the upper Bonavista Peninsula have come to fruition.

They now play the waiting game.

A decision on whether the area will be certified as an official UNESCO Global Geopark will come in September, while a public announcement will not be made until April 2020.

At the evaluation this past week, from July 21 to 25, Nikolaos Zouros and Kana Furusawa – hailing from Greece and Japan, respectively – toured all the areas in the potential Geopark, taking in the geology, history and culture.

In addition to global officials, the director of the Canadian Geoparks Network, Jeff Hunston, was present as an observer of the process.

Hunston complimented the work of everyone involved in DAGI, making special mention of the number of capable and amazing women instrumental in the process.

He said Discovery has the potential to become a new jewel to the crown that is the local region.

In an interview with The Packet, Zouros, UNESCO Geopark president, says this is his first time visiting Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I find the landscape really fascinating,” said Zouros. “I’ve read the application and I find it extremely interesting.”

He adds he is especially interested in the participation of the local communities and stakeholders.

“It’s bringing a new approach – a bottom-up approach,” he explained. “In order to have a successful Geopark, it’s extremely important to have real involvement of the local authorities, communities and stakeholders.”

Zouros explains the designation of a Geopark is not just a certificate to hang on a wall, but “a real tool” for sustainable local development.

As for the locals involved in DAGI, they’re eager to use that certification in the future of the region as soon as they hear about the evaluation results.

Jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca

Twitter: @jejparsons

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