UNESCO Sites Across the Channel – A new model of sustainable tourism


We are thrilled to announce a new project to further develop sustainable tourism opportunities using the UNESCO Biosphere reserve designation for the Isle of Wight.

This exciting new project aims to expand on the wonderful UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve status for the Isle of Wight, including the Island’s Heritage Coasts . It will develop new sustainable tourism initiatives that celebrate and protect our natural and cultural assets while benefitting the local economy. The project will include a series of events in 2021, 2022 and 2023. This new project runs from 2021-2023 and is funded by the EU Interreg Channel programme of the European Regional Development Fund.

Benefits for the Isle of Wight 

Together the ‘UNESCO Sites of the Channel (USAC)’ project partners will develop:


1. New UNESCO sites across the Channel
At the end of the project, new UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and Geoparks will emerge through the collective work carried out by project partners and territories.


2. Support for tourism professionals to discover local heritage
A network of local Ambassadors who share sustainable tourism values and practices based around the amazing natural and cultural resources.


3. New sustainable tourism experiences for all
New sustainable tourism experiences for residents and visitors while carefully managing biodiversity and protecting the landscape. Experiences will be nature-based tourism and of benefit to local communities and economies, for example nature hikes, geocaching, artistic festivals, exhibitions, farm stays.



Who is involved in this project? 

The Isle of Wight AONB Unit is one of 5 project partners in France and England. The Armorique Regional Nature Park is the project leader working alongside the following partners:

– Caps et Marais d’Opale Regional Nature Park
– Natural Area Conservatory of Hauts-de-France
– Isle of Wight AONB
Kent Downs AONB


Local supporters and partners include:
– Visit Isle of Wight
– The New Carnival Company
– The Island Collective
– The Isle of Wight Council



What are UNESCO Sites? 

World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural and natural heritage considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.



There are 32 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK including some of our most treasured landscapes and landmarks such as Canterbury Cathedral, Stonehenge and the Lake District.


For this project, the model will be developed around Biosphere Reserves (learning spaces for sustainable development), and Geoparks (areas that advance the protection and use of geological heritage in a sustainable way and promote the economic well-being of local people).

The “UNESCO Sites of the Channel” (USAC) project receives financial support from the European Interreg France (Channel) England Program:

Total budget | € 1,211,240.00
Contribution of the European Union (69%) | € 835,755.59



The Interreg – France (Channel) England (FMA) Program

The European Interreg France (Channel) England Program was set up to promote the economic development of the south of the United Kingdom and the north-west of France by funding innovative projects of sustainable and economic interest. It focuses on a series of specific objectives, notably support for innovation, improving the attractiveness of the FMA zone and the development of low-carbon technologies.

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