A Geopark is defined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in its UNESCO Geoparks International Network of Geoparks programme as follows:
- A territory encompassing one or more sites of scientific importance, not only for geological reasons but also by virtue of its archaeological, ecological or cultural value.
The Geoparks initiative was launched by UNESCO in response to the perceived need for an international initiative that recognizes sites representing an interest for the earth science. The International Network of Geoparks program aims at enhancing the value of such sites while at the same time creating employment and promoting regional economic development. For the purposes of the program the organization developed new internationally recognized label ‘UNESCO Geopark’.
There are two UNESCO recognised Geoparks in Ireland, the Copper Coast Geopark, County Waterford www.coppercoastrgeopark.com and the Marble Arch Caves Global EuropeanGeopark in Counties Fermanagh and Cavan www.marblearchcavesgeopark.com