Dudley Council has today received news that the Black Country has been successful in its bid to become an official world-famous UNESCO Global Geopark.

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, because of its cultural heritage and the active partnerships committed to conserving, managing and promoting it.  

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.

Geopark status recognises the region's many world-class natural and important cultural features, and how they come to tell the story of the landscape and the people that live within it. 

Above image: Ripple beds at Wren's Nest Nature Reserve. Photo credit Phil Riley

The significant part which the region played in the Industrial Revolution has been at the heart of the bid. More than 40 varied geosites have been selected so far within the geopark that tell its story as a special landscape. More will be added as the Geopark develops.

Geosites include Dudley and Wolverhampton Museums, Wren's Nest National Nature Reserve, Sandwell Valley, Red House Glass Cone, Bantock Park and Walsall Arboretum.

Above image: Singing Cavern, Dudley Canal Trust. Photo credit Phil Riley 

Ambassador Matthew Lodge, UK Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, said: "I am delighted that the Black Country has become the UK's eighth UNESCO Global Geopark, joining the UK's exceptional network of UNESCO designations.

"With geology stretching back 428 million years, and a landscape and heritage that shaped the modern world during the Industrial Revolution, it is right that the Black Country is given this prestigious UN status.

"Today's announcement ensures that this remarkable site will continue to inspire the million people who call the landscape home, as well as local and international visitors in the years to come. Congratulations to all."

Overjoyed with the announcement, Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said: "We did it! This is a truly momentous occasion for the Black Country. I couldn’t be prouder of what's been achieved, and I'm delighted the announcement has been made during Black Country Month.

"Our region is renowned for having been a driving force during the Industrial Revolution, and this status recognises the importance our geological heritage played at the time, and how it defined this area. It also marks the start of an exciting new chapter.

"Becoming a UNESCO Global Geopark really puts us on the world map and gives us the opportunity to tell our story to the world and celebrate the many sites and features that we're so fortunate to have.

"We hope this new UNESCO badge will encourage visitors from all over Great Britain and from around the world, and also bring in new funding to help us further develop the Geopark."

Main image: View of canals and Red House Glass Cone. Photo credit Phil Riley