The Black Country's aspirations to become the UK's next Geopark hung in the balance earlier this month, at a meeting of eminent geologists in Shetland.
Geopark status is a UNESCO designation and the geological equivalent of being a World Heritage Site. Not only must an area have outstanding geology, but it must have a clear plan for how it can make best use of the geology as an economic and heritage asset.
The Black Country certainly scores on the outstanding geology, having perhaps more diverse stratigraphy than any area of equivalent size in the world. In particular the fossil beds in and around Dudley's Wren's Nest National Nature Reserve are of massive global importance. From a heritage perspective, the role of the Black Country in the Industrial Revolution and its rich legacy of industrial archaeology tick the box. As for economic links, the Black Country stance of making the best of all its heritage assets and putting the quality of its environment at the heart of its regeneration is another strong argument.
In short, after a tour-de-force presentation by Dudley Museum's keeper of geology, Graham Worton, followed by two days of detailed cross-examination, the Black Country cam good, and has been invited to make a formal submission to UNESCO for Geopark status. If you are still sceptical, take a look at the PROJECT WEBSITE.