Happy Black Country Day! Today is all about the celebration of our Black Country culture, heritage and strong community bonds.
Sadly, many of the usual celebrations have been cancelled in light of social distancing rules however it is still a day to celebrate good news for the region, such as the accolade of achieving UNESCO Global Geopark status.
As we reported back in November last year, Sandwell was part of a consortium of the four Black Country authorities (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton) that submitted an application to become a UNESCO Global Geopark.
Since then the group has waited to hear whether the bid would be successful and now the wait is over. More than ten years on since the project was first conceived it has become a reality, the Black Country has been officially recognised as an area of outstanding geological heritage.
The executive board of UNESCO confirmed that the Black Country has been welcomed into the network of Global Geoparks as a place with internationally important geology. The park encompasses sites in Dudley, Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Walsall and becomes the UK’s eighth UNESCO geopark.
Unesco said the area had been recognised due to its cultural heritage and the active partnerships committed to conserving, managing and promoting it.
The role the region played in the Industrial Revolution was at the heart of the bid for status which was backed by partners including Natural England, the Canal and River Trust and the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country.
This means the Black Country is now on a par with UNESCO Global Geoparks in countries stretching from Brazil to Canada and Iceland to Tanzania.
More than 40 geosites have so far been selected within the geopark, including Dudley and Wolverhampton Museums, Wren’s Nest National Nature Reserve, Sandwell Valley, Red House Glass Cone, Bantock Park and Walsall Arboretum.
Winning Global Geopark status will hopefully ensure that local and international visitors continue to visit the area in the years to come and further inspire Black Country communities to keep our heritage alive and celebrate it every year on Black Country Day!
The Geopark status should benefit the environment and boost tourism in the region, as well as providing more local people with the opportunity to connect with the natural world.
Congratulations to the team that worked so hard to achieve this momentous status and for putting the Black Country very firmly on the world map.
To find out more about the Black Country UNESCO Global Geopark visit www.blackcountrygeopark.org.uk.