Niagara Peninsula Aims for Ontario’s First UNESCO Global Geopark Designation
Geopark designation will boost tourism to the region and shine international attention on the Niagara Peninsula and the Greenbelt
TORONTO, April 22, 2022—With support from the Greenbelt Foundation, Niagara Peninsula Aspiring Global Geopark (NPAGG) is aiming to secure a UNESCO Global Geopark designation and has developed a broad partnership that includes tourism, conservation, academic, agricultural, and Indigenous organizations. Following approval, the Niagara Peninsula will become Ontario’s first UNESCO Global Geopark and the sixth in Canada.
A Niagara Peninsula Geopark will increase local and eventually international visits to the Greenbelt and enhance understanding of these lands and why they are protected."
This exciting project reflects the extensive geological sites found in the Peninsula, including the southern end of the iconic Niagara Escarpment and can enhance meaningful visits to the Greenbelt and support rural tourism and pandemic recovery,” says Edward McDonnell, CEO of the Greenbelt Foundation. “A first in Ontario, the Niagara Peninsula Geopark will increase local and eventually international visitors while enhancing understanding of these lands and why they are protected.”
Defined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Geoparks are popular tourism destinations with measurable impacts. Certification is likely in 2023, building on preparations over the past two-years.
Geo-tourism is a niche-market that has grown internationally for 20 plus years and can offer a boost to Greenbelt visitor traffic and economic impact. Stonehammer Geopark in New Brunswick continues to increase visitor numbers five years after certification, with tourism revenues increasing by 6.4 per cent ($252 million).
"Niagara's rich geological and cultural heritage is a story worth telling. Having the Greenbelt Foundation as our Sustainable Prosperity Partner will help us tell this story to both local and international audiences, while bringing attention to the innovation and successes of sustainable businesses operating across the region,” says Perry Hartwick, Chair of the Board of the Niagara Peninsula Geopark. “By celebrating and protecting our collective geoheritage, we can bring economic prosperity to our communities, inspire a sense of place across Niagara, and encourage further development in a way that respects the place that we call home."
The Niagara Peninsula Aspiring Global Geopark (NPAGG) will help to create and grow sustainable tourism experiences across Niagara, by leveraging key partnerships with destination marketing organizations, businesses, governments, schools, secondary educational institutions, nature clubs, and sports groups.
A Niagara Peninsula Geopark will increase local and eventually international visits to the Greenbelt and enhance understanding of these lands and why they are protected. Signage and programming will strengthen the association between the Niagara Escarpment, specialty crop lands, and the Greenbelt for residents of southern Ontario.
Project partners include Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, Niagara College, Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls Water Resort, Arterra Wines, Willowbank School for Restoration Arts, and Upper Canada Stone.
To read a Backgrounder with further information, please click HERE.
About Greenbelt Foundation:
Greenbelt Foundation is a charitable organization, solely dedicated to ensuring the Greenbelt remains permanent, protected and prosperous. We make the right investments in its interconnected natural, agricultural, and economic systems, to ensure a working, thriving Greenbelt for all. Ontario's Greenbelt is the world's largest, with over two million acres of farmland, forests, wetlands and rivers working together to provide clean air, fresh water, and a reliable local food source.
UNESCO Global Geoparks, worldwide, are single unified geographical areas, where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. Geoparks not only tell part of the history of the planet but also celebrate how our geological heritage is linked to all other types of heritage. This forms the basis of community empowerment and the promotion of the area’s sustainable economic development.
A UNESCO Global Geopark is not a formal legislative designation, nor a new category of protected area or landscape. There are no restrictions on any economic activity inside the Global Geopark where activity complies with indigenous, local, regional, provincial and national legislation.
Greenbelt Foundation Media Contact:
Petronilla Ndebele, Director of Strategic Communications
(416) 960-0001 Extension 306
Geoparks Media Contact:
Bonnie Baker, Communications and Social Media Coordinator
Greenbelt Foundation Social Media:
Facebook: Ontario Greenbelt
Geoparks Social Media:
Social Media Accounts: https://linktr.ee/niagarageopark