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Shetland rocks

Shetland Geopark's welcome sign at Sumburgh Photo Shetland Amenity Trust

SHETLAND’S Geopark is to share £280,000 of government funding with its counterpart in the north west highlands of Scotland.

First minister Alex Salmond announced the funding during the cabinet’s visit to Shetland on Thursday.

The cash injection over two years is designed to secure the long term viability of the two organisations, and will enable them to continue promoting tourism and education based on their outstanding geology.

Shetland Geopark chairman Brian Gregson said: “It also allows us to capitalise on the many development opportunities that result from being a member of the Global Geoparks Network, supported by UNESCO.”

The first minister said the geoparks were playing an essential part in promoting tourism.

Geologist Allen Fraser leads a course in the south mainland. Photo Rick Barton

“Throughout history, deserts, seas and volcanoes have all left their mark on our landscape creating the varied and interesting environment that can influence every part of life,” he said.

“For a country our size, Scotland has some of the most varied geology in the world.

“Geoparks are a fantastic place to investigate our rocks and terrain, to discover how our history has help shape the landscapes we see across Scotland today.”

Independent highlands and islands list MSP Jean Urquhart said without the funding, the geoparks’ international status would have been put at risk.

“Scotland is the home of modern geology, and our Geoparks recognise two of the world’s most scientifically important and visually stunning landscapes,” she said.

“The many faults running through Shetland’s rock mean that you can see geology from all over the north of Scotland side by side. Geologically, Shetland is the highlands in miniature.

“The north west highlands are home to the oldest rocks in Britain. At 3 billion years old, some are well over half the age of the planet.

“We Scots are rightly proud of our landscape. We want to experience it, to learn about it, and to show it off to our friends from around the world.

“That’s what our geoparks are all about, and it’s great to know that they will go from strength to strength.”

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