In late February 2018 Drifting Apart held a conference to promote and discuss the results of the project, the partnerships developed during the project and lessons learnt from working together on a transnational project.
The conference ‘Drifting Apart But Working Together’ was held in Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geopark in South West Iceland, a location where tectonic plates are literally ‘drifting apart’.
The team at Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geopark developed a busy and diverse schedule for all participants and warmly welcomed everyone the evening before the conference in the newly refurbished visitor centre Duushús with local music and food. First Lady of Iceland, Eliza Reid, welcomed participants and recognized the important role of the Drifting Apart project in further developing Iceland’s Geoparks and relationships with other northern periphery countries, especially those in the project.
Please click on hyperlinked words below watch youtube recordings of the presentations.
Magnús Stefánsson, Mayor of the Municipality Garður, opened the conference, then Professor Patrick Mc Keever, UNESCO Secretary of the International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme, delivered the Key Note Speech.
Andrew Bratton then introduced the Drifting Apart project outlining the scale, focus and priorities of the project.
Representatives from Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark presented the various outputs developed by the team including the Drifting Apart Story which explores the geo-heritage of the project area, Best Practice Interpretation Guidelines and how partners used innovative and creative ways to develop interpretation and sites contributing towards a transnational visitor trail.
Magma UNESCO Global Geopark introduced GeoVr, the virtual reality platform developed through the Drifting Apart project. The platform captures key locations in each partner area, highlights additional information such as geological history or cultural traditions and presents this through Occulus Rift, desktop or moblie. GeoVr was available for all participants to try during the conference.
Gail Bremner from Stonehammer UNESCO Global Geopark located in eastern Canada talked through the process which helped develop the Sustainable Geoparks Model and Management toolkit. All partners, established UNESCO Global geoparks and aspiring geoparks worked with Stonehammer to ensure this toolkit is useful and can be easily transferable as no two areas, management techniques or organisation are the same.
Next we took a step back from the project outputs to consider the wider context of Geoparks and product development. Inga Hlín Pálsdóttir, Director of Visit Iceland spoke about the pressures facing Iceland as a result of increased tourism and actions taken to build a sustainable and positive tourism sector. Many participants face similar pressures and benefited from being able to share ideas and discussions.
At the heart of every Geopark must be the people. Shetland UNESCO Global Geopark and the Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust presented a range of toolkits developed to engage with schools, community groups and businesses. The toolkits provide a no-nonsense approach to planning engagement and versions have been developed for those managing a Geopark and external businesses or community groups.
Deputy Director of Development at Kenozero National Park took the opportunity to showcase the Russian National Park and many of the items developed through the Drifting Apart project. Kenozero National Park is apply for UNESCO World heritage Site status and it exploring the possibility of establishing a geopark in Ongea Promoire National Park, also under their management.
Lastly Andrew and Nikki from Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust discussed the benefits, difficulties and lessons learned from leading this 21 partner-wide €1.6million project. A question and answer session followed.