Why we wanted to be a Geo-park
As indicated in the section called “World Geo-parks”, this is a model which has the support of UNESCO and which is tried and tested in various other countries apart from Spain. There have been over 90 geo-parks created in 28 countries since the Network was set up In 2000 and new requests are constantly being received for this status. There are good reasons for these parks to be considered geo-parks as such. The island of El Hierro already complied with many of these thus reducing the cost of preparing the bid and speeding up the process of evaluation, in the hope that El Hierro could immediately benefit from the success of the network of Geo-parks (at a European and world level)
If El Hierro were successful in its bid for the European Geo-Park Network, it would become the first island to be a World Biosphere Reserve and a Geo-park at one and the same time. If El Hierro did this, it would add to these two honours the third distinction of being the first island in the world to be totally self-sufficient in energy consumption, thanks to the new hydro-eolic plant and the Plan for Sustainable Mobility which has foreseen the first recharging points for electric vehicles. Parallel to this, there have been action plans set in motion to work on sustainability, competitive advantages, mobility, water resources, environmental education and recycling. The island already boasts a dense network of hiking trails while work is in progress to develop routes that skirt the volcanoes and the opening of caves to the public, together with an overall plan for interpretation of the island that would bring together all of these initiatives in one volcanic interpretation centre. There are many initiatives already underway, then, and to be able to boast the brand of “Geopark” would constitute an excellent umbrella term to project the image of the island to the world in a clear and distinct way, taking advantage of the window of opportunity afforded by the Geopark Network. The people of El Hierro were ready to present the bid for Geo-park and to join the Network as an active member, if accepted, thereby leaving behind a past of total isolation. This projection afforded by the brand of Geo-park will open up new opportunities of socio-economic development by creating a new and differentiated model of sustainable tourism that brings together the concerns with respect to the preservation of our environment, clean energy systems, ecological agriculture and scientific research, the latter above all focused on geology and volcanoes. Contacts had already been established with other geo-parks to work on joint projects, financed by the EU, such as the HORIZON 2020 programme.
23th september 2014, El Hierro was declared as a Geopark.