Last month, forty geologists and conservationists from across the world visited the Black Country to see our internationally famous geological heritage and learn how it is being conserved, managed and promoted for the benefit of local people.
The group was in the UK to attend a major international symposium on the conservation of geological heritage being held in Loughborough.
The visiting group from countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Greece, Finland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Romania and Sweden arrived especially early for the symposium in order to visit the Black Country UNESCO Global Geopark.
The excursion, in unseasonably warm weather, included a visit the Geopark Headquarters at Dudley Museum at the Archives, an underground trip by canal to see the historic limestone mines, visits to Wren’s Nest and Saltwells National Nature Reserves, and a stop off at Barr Beacon to learn about the Purple Horizons Project where both geology and wildlife is being recovered and enhanced.
The day ended with a traditional British pub meal. The spectacular geology and imaginative conservation projects, set within an urban landscape, clearly impressed the group, most of whom were more familiar with open and less populated landscapes. Whilst the geopark visibly inspired these international visitors, the pork scratchings which were provided with lunch only served to puzzle them.
Dr Colin Prosser
Black Country UNESCO Global Geopark Partnership and Natural England.