Nfld. & Labrador

Mistaken Point 'another jewel in UNESCO crown': minister

Minister Perry Trimper expects plenty of attention and new visitors to the Mistaken Point site following its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Minister of Environment and Conservation Perry Trimper says the designation of Mistaken Point as a UNESCO World Heritage site will attract new tourists to the area. (CBC)

The province's minister of environment and conservation expects plenty of attention and new visitors to Mistaken Point now that the ecological reserve has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Perry Trimper says the site is a very special one worthy of its new global recognition.

"There are only two other locations in the world where you can find evidence of life from an entire era of geologic time," said Trimper on CBC Radio's On The Go.

"There's this amazing 20 million year timeframe within which the southeast Avalon at Mistaken Point has the most abundant and greatest diversity of this evidence of life and the world yesterday, in Istanbul, Turkey, agreed that this was truly of world-class status."

Trimper said new staff will be hired for the site to handle the expected influx of tourists, which is expected to create economic spinoffs for nearby communities.

"There are obligations under the UNESCO designation to ensure that the site remains adequately protected, that it's available to the public and so on. We've been preparing for what we hoped would be a positive announcement in terms of an interpretation master plan, which we've developed with the community." 

The Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve's interpretation centre has already begun promoting its new status. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Trimper said the master plan will help protect the fossils at the Mistaken Point site and effectively manage the increased tourism.

He said the UNESCO designation will help attract a new type of tourism.

"This will attract an academic bent, as it were, and these are people that really understand how important and how unique these fossil resources are.

"We will see — and have been seeing over the past couple of decades — people from all manner of academic institutions who have come to research."

We've got something very special here.- Minister Perry Trimper

Trimper said the dirt road leading to the site is in good shape for the moment, and may be paved in the future, but the road allows for controlled access and the main goal is protecting the fossils.

"This is another one of our wonderful jewels in our UNESCO crown, we have four of these facilities in the province," he said.

"There are only 18 in Canada, so we've got something very special here, we're going to need to keep a good eye on it." 

With files from On The Go