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UNESCO Geopark bid for the Wolds

Malcolm Hodgson, Clare Whiteley, John Brown, Ben Grewer and Richard Myerscough at the conference.
Malcolm Hodgson, Clare Whiteley, John Brown, Ben Grewer and Richard Myerscough at the conference.

A conference in Market Weighton has backed a bid to earn UNESCO Geopark status for the Yorkshire Wolds.

Delegates at the event gave unanimous support for recognising the outstanding qualities of the Wolds by investigating UNESCO Global Geopark accreditation.

Though the Yorkshire Wolds is the country's most northerly chalk uplands, and an area of outstanding beauty and heritage, it is often called a 'hidden gem'.

Though the Yorkshire Wolds is the country's most northerly chalk uplands, and an area of outstanding beauty and heritage, it is often called a 'hidden gem'.

They were attending an inaugural conference entitled ‘Towards UNESCO Geopark status for the Yorkshire Wolds’ which was organised by PLACE – a Yorkshire-based environmental and landscape group.

Speakers at the event included landscape photographer Paul Moon, from Nunburnholme, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Living Landscapes manager Jon Traill, originally from Millington, and Phil Gilbank, chairman of Pocklington Heritage Partnership.

The conference was devised after a series of meetings in Pocklington between Malcolm Hodgson, the National Trails officer for the Yorkshire Wolds Way and Cleveland Way footpaths, and retired schoolteachers John Brown, from Pocklington, and Richard Myerscough, from Bridlington.

The trio then enlisted additional expertise from Hull University, who directed archaeologist Clare Whiteley, who is involved in archaeology in Nunburnholme and its environs, and geology student Ben Grewer to work on the project.

There are Geoparks in 33 countries worldwide, with 69 across Europe, seven of them in the UK.

UNESCO Global Geoparks are a unified area where sites and landscapes of international significance, use geological heritage, combined with the area’s natural and cultural heritage, to enhance awareness and understanding of key issues facing society.

UNESCO Global Geoparks aim to give local people a sense of pride in their region and strengthen their identification with the area, as well as encourage sustainable research and development.

Though the Yorkshire Wolds is the country’s most northerly chalk uplands, and an area of outstanding beauty and heritage, it is often called a “hidden gem” and less well known nationally and internationally than the chalklands of the south of England.

The conference heard presentations from 10 local speakers who outlined the Wolds’ unique beauty and heritage of the area from their specialities, including geology and landscapes, archaeology, local history, landscape photography, natural history and economic development.

PLACE chief executive, Dr Margaret Atherden, said: “I thought the event went very well and engendered positive support for the proposal that the Yorkshire Wolds be considered for UNESCO Global Geopark status.”

Former Woldgate School head teacher John Brown added: “The Wolds is such an outstanding and unique place, but a much undervalued one.

“Geopark status might go some way to redress this and the conference has encouraged us to look at the next steps.”