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UNESCO turns over Asia's biggest GeoParks in Bohol

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, June 22 (PIA) -- United Nation’s Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) through the UNESCO National Commission (UNACOM) turned over to the province of Bohol its designation and initiation into the Global Geoparks Network, a testament of Bohol’s rich geological and cultural heritage and its protection, preservation, and conservation efforts.

In simple ceremonies at the Capitol on June 22, UNACOM Secretary General Dr. Ivan  Anthony Henares handed to Gov. Erico Aristotle Aumentado the UNESCO Global Geopark Plaque, which the governor also shared during the formal turn-over ceremonies at the Chocolate Hills Viewdeck Hall in Carmen Bohol later that morning.

Geologist Nancy Rowena Agoda of the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning, who served as technical adviser in the Bohol geoparks project, said that of the list of sites, the Bohol geopark is the largest in terms of area in Asia, and the fifth largest in the world. 

UNACOM Executive Director Lindsey Barrientos shared that it was on May 24, 2023 when the UNESCO, in a conference in Paris, adopted the resolution for the initiation of Bohol into the geoparks network.

They adopted the resolution making the whole of Bohol island a part of the 195 global geoparks across 48 countries.

Bohol resident geologist Karl Michael Din said geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.

Speaking at the Kapihan sa PIA, Din said the Bohol geoparks team submitted the Chocolate Hills in Carmen, Alicia Schist, Manan-aw Cave system of Cagongcagong and the Alicia Panoramic Park, Lamanoc Island Archaeological Site, Cabagnow and Anda cave Pools, Cadapdapan Rice Terraces, Canumangtad Falls in Candijay, Bohol Heritage Churches in Baclayon, Dauis, Maribojoc Punta Cruz Watchtower heritage site, Maribojoc Uplifted Terrace, Baclayon Uplift, Loon Corral Garden, and its marine protected areas.

Many Boholanos still want an expressed geopark designation also given to Anonang Inabanga, Danajon Double Barrier Reef, Carmaloan Cave in Jagna, the Bohol Sea trenches, and other nationally declared heritage treasures.

The global geoparks was initially founded in 2004 as an international partnership under UNESCO.

It serves to develop models of best practice and set quality standards for territories that integrate the protection preservation of Earth heritage sites in a strategy for regional sustainable economic development.

Bohol’s entry into the Global Geoparks Network would help guide communities to promote the equitable geographical establishment, development and professional management to advance knowledge and understanding of the nature, function and role of Global Geoparks and assist local communities to value, preserve Earth heritage for present and future generations by educating, research to ensure sustainable socio-economic and cultural development based on the natural system.

This would foster multi-cultural links between heritage and conservation and the maintenance of geological and cultural diversity, using participatory schemes of partnership and management to stimulate research and promote joint initiatives in management.

“This is not just a designation, and it would be up to you to sustain this, that it is up to you to explore ways to collaborate to transform communities to be engaged in the protection and conservation of these sites,” Henares said in a video message during the turn-over.

In his acceptance message, Aumentado said he is honored as this is the Philippines’ first UNESCO global geopark designation which recognizes the Boholanos’ deep connection with the landscape and its intricate interplay of elements that shape the culture and heritage of the people.    

Aumentado emphasized the task of safeguarding the environment for the future generations to maintain and ensure positive results in the revalidation before the May 23, 2027 expiration of the designation, to possibly enhance the status of the sites in the geopark by devoting ourselves to networking and championing geological, environmental and cultural preservation.

Speaking for Director Mario delos Reyes of the UP School of Urban and Regional planning, Agoda said it was delos Reyes who proposed the idea of Bohol in the geoparks knowing that a UP visiting professor and lecturer brings his German students to Bohol annually for geological fieldwork. (RAHC/PIA-7 Bohol)

Bohol Gov. Erico Aristotle Aumentado speaking during the turnover of UNESCO to the province of Bohol its designation and initiation into the Global Geoparks Network on June 22, 2023. (PIA-7 Bohol)

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Rey Anthony Chiu

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Region 7

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