UNESCO evaluators spent a few days in the region assessing the progress of the Black Country Global Geopark since it gained UNESCO global status three years ago.

The geopark team welcomed Helga Chulepin from Uruguay and Gloria Garcia from Spain as part of the revalidation mission.

It was in July 2020 that the Black Country was officially given UNESCO global geopark status.

The visit last week by Helga and Gloria was part of the process to secure UNESCO status for another four years after the current term ends next summer.

The Black Country Global Geopark comprises a number of partners including Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils, Natural England, Canal and River Trust and the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country.

During the week, Helga and Gloria were given a whistle-stop tour of geosites across the Black Country including Wren’s Nest National Nature Reserve, Smestow Valley, Moorcroft Wood, Walsall Arboretum and Sandwell Valley Country Park where they met with staff, partners, members of the community and volunteers.

Stourbridge News: Helga Chulepin (third from right) and Gloria Garcia (second from right) at Wren's Nest National Nature ReserveHelga Chulepin (third from right) and Gloria Garcia (second from right) at Wren's Nest National Nature Reserve (Image: Dudley Council)

Graham Worton, from the Black Country Global Geopark, said: "It’s been a pleasure to welcome Helga and Gloria to the Black Country to show them first hand why the Black Country is so special and was deemed worthy of UNESCO status three years ago.

"During their visit Helga and Gloria have seen some of the region’s highlights and learnt about our successes including the Purple Horizons project, which is restoring heathlands and habitat in the northern regions of the geopark (Walsall).

"They’ve also given us guidance on ways we can develop and made suggestions to help us strengthen our work in the future.

"Maintaining UNESCO status is important for the Black Country. It secures the future of our geological and cultural heritage, supports the visitor economy and will help bring in funding to support our work."

The geopark will find out later this year if it has been successful in retaining UNESCO status.