Delegates of the ProGEO Symposium gather for a group picture outside in Bradgate Park.
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Charnwood Forest Hosts International Geological Conference

Geological experts from around the world descended on Leicestershire in October for the 11th International Symposium of ProGEO – the nickname for the International Association for the Conservation of Geological Heritage.

The conference was hosted in Loughborough Town Hall, with more than 120 delegates convening to discuss advances in the protection of our planets most important geological sites. Attendees to the meeting had travelled from around the world, including Brazil, Canada, Morocco, Pakistan, and Australia. As well as more than 70 presentation, the conference featured a field trip to Bradgate Park, and a dinner that highlighted local produce such as Temple Bees Honey, Bradgate Venison, and wine from the Rothley Wine Estate.

Maria da Glória Motta Garcia giving a presentation on stage about geoconservation in Brazil.

Maria da Glória Motta Garcia updates delegates on geological conservation in Brazil

Charnwood Forest Geopark, who organised the meeting, formed in 2021 to celebrate the internationally important geology of the area, connect people to Charnwood Forest’s story, and secure it a sustainable future. The region is home to a number of very rare fossils that represent some of the oldest evidence of animal life in the world. It is hoped that hosting the Conference will help to further cement Charnwood Forest’s global geological significance, and assist in any future bid to become a UNESCO Global Geopark.

Jack Matthews, Geopark Geoheritage Officer, and Chair of the Organising Group said: “We are very proud to have hosted this meeting, and to have welcomed the world to Charnwood Forest and Loughborough. As well as bringing new customers to the area’s businesses, this meeting was a great opportunity to promote the fabulous geological sites we have within the Geopark. We have a great story to tell here in Charnwood Forest – one as old as animal life itself – and we want to share it with the world”.

Field trip attendees gather for a glass of sparkling wine at the Rothley Wine Estate vineyards

Field trip attendees gather for a glass of sparkling wine at the Rothley Wine Estate vineyard in Charnwood Forest.

With so many international visitors making the trip for the meeting, it is estimated that hosting the ProGEO Symposium had an economic benefit to the local economy of around £100,000. Some delegates chose to stay even longer, taking in an optional pre-conference day trip to the Black Country UNESCO Global Geopark around Dudley, or a post-conference three day excursion around Charnwood Forest best geological sites.

Previous hosts of the ProGEO International Symposium include Rome, Kyiv, Dublin, and Reykjavik.

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