Continued Co-operation between the Forestry Service and Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark In 1998 Fermanagh District Council (FDC) development Cuilcagh Mountain Park, a major element of which consists of land which FDC leases from the Forestry Service (FS) at Aghatirouke in the open, upland conservation area of Florencecourt forest. Aghatirouke has been identified by the RSPB as one of the most important biodiversity sites in Northern Ireland due to its exceptional range of plant and wildlife species..
Aghatirouke and Cuilcagh Mountain Park.
In 2001 when UNESCO geopark status was awarded, Marble Arch Caves became the smallest geopark in Europe at 1600 hectares (compare this to Reserve Geologique de Haute-Provence at 200,000ha). Despite this Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark is widely recognised as being particularly strong in terms of excellent geo-diversity and quality of tourism.
In 2007 the already existing co-operation between FDC and FS was further strengthened when a proposal to extend Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark into FS and Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) land in west Fermanagh was accepted thus increasing the geopark in size over ten times to 18,000 ha.
The expansion area contains a fine array of geological, geomorphological and biodiversity features in international, national and regional importance as well as a notable variety of archaeological, cultural and historical sites which have been effectively managed for conservation and recreation by FS and NIEA.
Within the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark it is possible to see some of Irelands finest cliffs and scarps including Cuilcagh Mountain summit ridge, the Cliffs of Magho which overlooks Lower Lough Erne and Knockmore Cliff which reaches a height of 130m.
The Worlds First International Geopark!
Knockmore Cliff. Co Fermanagh
The Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark shares an international border with CO. Cavan in the Republic of Ireland. This border runs along the top of Cuilcagh Mountain, an already established feature of the Geopark.
West Cavan has much in common with the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark in terms of geology, archaeology, and culture and as a result of this a joint application by Fermanagh District Council and Cavan County Council was submitted to the European Geopark Network in March 2008 to expand the already existing Geopark across the border into selected sites in Co. Cavan. The initial application was accepted and an in depth inspection process followed in Aug 2008 when two representitives from UNESCO visited the sites in Co.Cavan and left after the week long visit with a very positive view of the area.
On the 19th September the Cavan extention of the Geopark was approved in the Czech Republic at a joint meeting of UNESCO and the European Geopark Network. This is a major sucess for this part of Ireland and represents a huge step forward for tourism in the area. It is a world first for a Geopark to cross an international border and in light of the recent turbulant history of Ireland, sets a wonderful example of co-operation to the rest of the world.
The expanded Geopark will be overseen by a Joint Operational Committe made up of representatives from both Cavan and Fermanagh Councils and will be managed from the already established Geopark headquarters at the Marble Arch Caves Visitor centre in Co. Fermanagh.
Dramatic cliffs, rugged rocky outcrops and upland blanket bog dominates the north west of the expanded area, while the landscape in the south east of the area gives way to gently rolling drumlins and flooded hollows which are home to some of the finest examples of glacial geology in the world.
Lakes are a particularly important part of the landscape of Fermanagh and Cavan with Co. Cavan alone claiming to have a lake for every day of the year. Many of the lakes have formed as over deepened glacial valleys or in hollows between glacial deposits as a result of flooding at the end of the last ice age.
Fine examples of glacial erratics can also be found within the expansion area. These are boulders which have been carried by glacial ice and which have been deposited when the ice melted. Within the Geopark and surrounding area they are often composed of sandstone and in some instances rest on a pedestal of limestone rock which they have protected from erosion since the end of the last ice age.
Glacial Erratic in the Burren Forest Co. Cavan
Drumlin landscape Co Cavan