It is one of the most prestigious titles that can be bestowed on the landscape.
But the Unesco Global Geopark status of a special part of the Highlands is under threat due to a £70,000 funding gap.
North West Highlands Geopark promotes the unique geology of the area for locals and tourists, but depends on the money to retain its staff.
Without staff, projects such as the upgrading of the exhibition, making a guidebook and running guided walks will be forced to stop, threatening its Unesco status which was granted in November 2015.
An urgent fundraising campaign, Love the Geopark, has now been launched to try and save it – but only £240 has been raised after a week.
The Unesco Geopark initiative started in 1998 to recognise the opportunity for remote communities to take pride in their landscape and promote it for tourism. Geoparks are set up by a local community to manage geological sites and landscapes with the Geopark approach of protection, education and sustainable development.
Since 2013, the geopark has received £248,00 funding from the Scottish Government, but this stopped at the end of March based on a prior understanding that the geopark would become financially sustainable.
But North West Highlands Geopark group chairman, councillor George Farlow, says it is very “difficult to be sustainable” in such a sparsely populated area in which fundraising is essential.
He added: “I appreciate they can not fund everybody at this time, but we are Unesco designation and I would have thought they would want to support Unesco for its sustainable goals.
“It’s really worthwhile. We deliver education, science and culture and it raises the profile of Scotland and Sutherland and people should buy into that.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The last award in 2015 was made on the basis that the geopark was working to become sustainable and financially viable and that further core funding should not be expected. Unfortunately, the geopark has not been successful in developing a sustainable financial model.
“We hope that the geopark will continue to work with partners and Unesco while they pursue other funding avenues.”
Gail Ross, SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross-shire, said: “The geopark’s drive is not only to promote the area in terms of its geology but also encourages all visitors to be good stewards of our natural and cultural resources and strengthens the links that this remote area has with the rest of the world.
“The bottom line is that time is now critical for the geopark, funding must be found, and fast, to ensure that the staff, who live and are bringing up their families in the park can be retained.”
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