UNESCO Sites Across the Channel project

Value of EU grant - €1,111,755.57

Total project value - €1,611, 239.99

Name of funding programme - Interreg V France (Channel) England Programme

Start and end dates - October 2020 to June 2023

This exciting new project aims to develop, research, and understand the benefits of United Nations Environmental, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) status for the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), including Kent's Heritage Coast from Dover to Folkestone. 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 Landscape Festival in 2022. This new project runs from 2021-2023 and is funded by the EU Interreg Channel programme of the European Regional Development Fund.

Together the UNESCO Sites Across the Channel (USAC) project partners will develop:

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. For Kent, this could mean the whole of the Kent Downs AONB becomes a Global Geopark or the pursuit of Biosphere Reserve status and World Heritage Site Status for the Strait of Dover.

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 of the Kent Downs.

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 and farm stays.

  • Norfolk County Council (United Kingdom)
  • Kent County Council (United Kingdom)
  • Isle of Wight AONB (United Kingdom)
  • Armorique Regional Nature Park (France)
  • Caps et Marais d’Opale Regional Nature Park (France)
  • Conservatoire d’Espaces Naturels des Hauts-de-France (France)

  • The Kent Downs AONB will apply for UNESCO Global Geopark status, potentially in partnership with the Caps et Marais d’Opale Regional Nature Park in France as a cross-Channel UNESCO Global Geopark.
  • New tourists are attracted, and tourism is increasingly sustainable in the Kent Downs.
  • Kent businesses are supported to produce new products in the sustainable tourism sector and beyond.

  • Develop marketing strategies to attract 2.6 million new visitors in the France (Channel) England (FCE) area.
  • Create an innovative, profitable and sustainable tourism model to meet demands and current trends.
  • Implementation and transferability of this new sustainable and economically viable tourism model available across the FCE area and beyond.
  • Support the development of new cross-Channel UNESCO sites.

  • The Kent Downs AONB could become part of a cross-Channel UNESCO Global Geopark in partnership with the Caps et Marais d’Opale Regional Nature Park, or the Kent Downs AONB could become a UNESCO Global Geopark.
  • New sustainable tourism products will be developed by Kent businesses as part of the project.

UNESCO status will improve the sustainability of tourism in the Kent Downs AONB whilst also helping to secure future external funding.