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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 20:25 GMT 21:25 UK
Ancient rocks win geopark status
Lochaber. Picture courtesy of Richard Sowersby/BBC
Lochaber is the 31st to join the list of European geoparks
An area of Scotland boasting 1,000 million years of geological history has been made Europe's newest geopark.

Lochaber follows the North West Highlands in winning the internationally recognised status.

The European Geoparks Network (EGN) was set up in 2000 in an effort to protect and promote zones with rocks and features considered to be unique.

The Lochaber bid received more than 200,000 in funding - including 75,000 from Scottish Natural Heritage.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise Lochaber contributed 56,500 towards the project, 45,900 was given by the Heritage Lottery Fund, 15,000 from Highland Council and 10,000 of European funding.

Lochaber Geopark Association will be publicising the new status in a bid to attract more visitors.

The new park stretches from Rannoch Moor in the south to Knoydart in the north, and from the Small Isles in the west to Glen Spean in the east.

In myth, a feature known as the Parallel Roads on the hillsides of Glen Roy, Glen Gloy and Glen Spean were thought to have been formed by giants
Ben Nevis - the UK's highest mountain - is within the park's boundaries
Another feature known as a caldera, a circular depression from which magma erupted or had withdrawn, can be seen in Glen Coe and on Ben Nevis

There are now 31 geoparks, with others in the North Pennines in England, Fforest Fawr, Wales, Marbel Arch Caves and Cuilcagh Mountains in Northern Ireland and Ireland's Copper Coast.

The North West Highlands was awarded its designation in 2004.

Other parks include Greece's Petrified Forest of Lesvos which is an area of fossilised trees.

Also, Vulkaneifel in Germany where there are eight huge craters filled with water and called the Eyes of the Eifel.

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