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Reykjanes Geopark receives an international accreditation

The Reykjanes Geopark in Iceland was accepted into the European Geoparks Network in Rokua Geopark in Finland Saturday 5 September.
Mt Keilir seen from the Reykjanes highlands
Mt Keilir seen from the Reykjanes highlands

The Reykjanes Geopark in Iceland was accepted into the European Geoparks Network in Rokua Geopark in Finland Saturday 5 September. EGN is supported by UNESCO and is the formal association of areas in Europe that have important geological significance.

The acceptance of Reykjanes Geopark in EGN is a significant acknowledgment for inhabitants, organisations and companies in the region and is a testimony of the unique qualities and worldwide significance of the area. The accreditation will be used to promote the area for future visitors, as well as for building and maintaining facilities and develop educational and training activities. Reykjanes Geopark is 825 km2 in since and located in the Southwest part of Iceland. The area includes the Keflavik International Airport and covers the municipalities of Reykjanesbær, Grindavíkurbær, Sandgerðisbær, Garður and Vogar.

Like other members of EGN Reykjanes Geopark works towards increasing the interest of the Earth, by focusing on remarkable geological and cultural heritage, as well as educating inhabitants and visitors about the area, all while taking good care of the region for future generations.

Education, build-up of facilities and promotion of the region

Robert Ragnarsson, Mayor of the town of Grindavík received the accreditation on behalf of Reykjanes Geopark at the annual autumn meeting of the European Geopark Network association in Finland on 5 September 2015. According to Robert the common objective of the municipalities in the Reykjanes region is to emphasise on both the geological heritage and wellness tourism when promoting the area. “We are truly GEO” highlights Robert, “with visible tectonic plate boundaries, volcanic caldrons, high temperature geothermal areas and the Blue Lagoon, to name a few areas. Additionally we have breath-taking natural areas and services for wellness tourism, be it exercise, relaxation, meditation and spa, which is one of the thing we are most known for. We are interested in increasing the awareness of inhabitants and visitors in the area of the geological uniqueness of the Reykjanes Region and promote our heritage and history. We do this primarily by emphasising on education and information sharing, as well as by strengthening tourism in the area.”

“Reykjanes Geopark will benefit immensely by the formal acceptance into the Euroean Geoparks Network”, continues Robert. “The advantage will be visible in increased promotional and marketing activities, as well as access to a large network of international experts within the field of geology. Now we have to rely on tourism, service providers, the municipalities and other stake holders in the region to actively use Reykjanes Geopark when promoting and marketing their service.”

Application process since 2012

The development of Reykjanes Geopark has been going on since 2012 headed by Heklan – Regional Development Agency, even though ideas of some kind of a geological heritage park in Reykjanes has a much longer background. Key factor in this development and subsequent successful application as a formal member of the European Geoparks Network has been the cooperation between the municipalities and stakeholders in the area who have worked in unison towards accomplishing this project. In addition to the municipalities and the Heklan - Regional Development Agency, partners in Reykjanes Geopark include Reykjanes Tourism Board, the Blue Lagoon, Suðurnes Science and Learning Centre, Keilir – Atlantic Center of Excellence and HS Orka Energy Company.

The Reykjanes Region is the second area in Iceland accepted and accredited by the European Geoparks Network, the first one being Katla Geopark receiving their membership in the association in 2011. The membership of Katla Geopark was successfully renewed during the EGN autumn meeting in Finland.