On the 10th of July this year, the Black Country became a UNESCO Global Geopark. This prestigious UN status has been awarded in recognition of the Black Country’s internationally important geology stretching back 428 million years, and its cultural heritage; inextricably linked to the area’s geology, this reveals the significant part the Black Country played in the industrial revolution. More than 40 geosites within the geopark have been chosen to tell its story, including the rock face on the Wildlife Trust’s Portway Hill reserve (geosite 23). Click here to read the full story!Of course, because of the pandemic and the restrictions imposed by lockdown, we haven’t had much to report in 2020 in the way of events. However the hills remain an important oasis where people can spend much-needed time outdoors, and nature has been getting on with things regardless of the virus. Here is a selection of fantastic photos from Mike Poulton taken over the past few months, showing the varied and beautiful life to be found in the Rowley Hills.
On the morning of Thursday 23 June, three representatives of FORH, Julie, Bob and Mike, along with Chris Parry, Principal Ecologist for the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, joined Graham Worton, Keeper of Geology at Dudley Museum and Art Gallery and the two scrutineers Jari Nenonen from Finland and Jin Xiaochi from China on their UNESCO Global Geopark Evaluation Mission visit to the Rowley Hills.
To give our guests a panoramic view of the surrounding Black Country, the high point at the top of Darbys Hill Road was the first port of call. From here Graham put names to the distant hills and pointed out some of the nearby sites that had been visited during the previous two days.
From here the short journey was made to the Wildlife Trust land on Portway Hill where our visitors were able to get up really close to the outstanding geological features and we were given the opportunity to talk to them about the role the Wildlife Trust and Friends of Rowley Hills played in conserving and managing this site for its wildlife and geology.
Several other Sandwell sites were to be visited as part of the evaluation mission during the remaining part of the day, so with a tight itinerary in prospect, our visitors parted company, hopefully with a lasting impression to take back home, and one that will lead to a positive outcome when the decision as to whether the Black Country becomes a UNESCO Global Geopark site is made early next year.