Environment minister Carole Dieschbourg at the presentation of the application on 23 November (Photo: MEA / DATer) 

The Natur- & Geopark Mëllerdall is an association of 11 communes that aims to support the region’s sustainable development. The group was founded in 2016 and in 2017 first submitted an application to the Unesco programme that was, however, unsuccessful.

Nature and geoparks are not protected nature reserves but rather regions of cultural and natural heritage. To qualify for the Unesco label they must be areas where “sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.”

The Mullerthal is characterised by its sandstone gorges and rock formations that served, for example, to mine millstones for the mills dotted throughout the valley.

There are currently 161 Unesco global geoparks in 44 countries. Experts from Unesco will visit Luxembourg next year for their assessment and a decision whether the Natur- & Geopark Mëllerdall will be added to the list is expected in early 2022.

Since its unsuccessful bid in 2017--largely due to a lack of concept--the organisation has increased its visibility and activities, the government said in a press release published on Monday.

“As a child of the Mullerthal, I am particularly happy about the promising perspectives linked to the Unesco Global Geoparks label,” said environment minister Carole Dieschbourg, adding that the concept was “perfectly coordinated with our concept of natural parks, that focuses on the promotion of nature and the protection of the environment, on soft tourism, the sustainable economic and socio-cultural development and the quality of life and accommodation of people.”

In October, the Luxembourg Minett--the iron-ore rich region in the south--became a Unesco biosphere reserve, making it part of a programme that looks at how communities can live more sustainably.