By Ric Obedencio | 07:47 PM November 05, 2022
British ambassador to the Philippines Laure Beaufils wished Bohol well for its bid to become a geopark in the world after being told that the province has been nominated for the world geopark selection.
Beaufils, who came here with her family to savor Bohol’s hospitality, said that Bohol’s nomination to the world heritage is a “powerful, fantastic choice” during the press conference with few media personalities in Bohol held at the Amarela resort in premier tourist town of Panglao on Friday. This came at a time when Bohol celebrated the 126th birth anniversary of its illustrious son, Carlos Polestico Garcia, the 4th President of the Republic of the Philippines.
She said that in a tourist perspective if Bohol is chosen as one of the geoparks in the world it will make it a boost as tourist destination. The nomination as a geopark, if okayed by UNESCO, is like a tourist accreditation.
The British diplomat, along with Kristine Borja, head of political of British embassy in Manila, met with Gov. Aris Aumentado, provincial administrator Aster Caberte and Jovencia Ganub of the Bohol Environment and Management Office (BEMO).
The discussed a variety of subjects in an exploratory fashion that may be points of cooperation and contribute to Bohol development agenda under the current provincial administration.
The envoy told media that United Kingdom is very much concern on climate change, biodiversity, education, creatives and Bohol is interested in possible twinning.
Having its world-famous Chocolate Hills and other geo-physical natural assets, Bohol is one of the seven (7) considered geoparks being nominated by the Global Geoparks Council of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The other six are: Ijen, Indonesia; Maros Pangkep, Indonesia; Aras, Iran; Waitaki Whitestone, New Zealand; Kinabalu, Malaysia; and Khorat, Thailand. These sites are undergoing reevaluation and revalidation, the council said.
When asked his opinion, Gov. Aris Aumentado said that Bohol is proud of that and the Chocolate Hills contribute much to the tourism in the province.
“The Council considered revalidation and extension proposals that had been submitted in 2019, 2020 and 2021, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led to delays in the evaluation process,” the council said.
The council said that in coming up of seven (7) geoparks nominations, including Bohol, and endorsed it to its executive board for its separate endorsement during the 2023 spring session was an offshoot of the thorough examination in the presence of 73 observers and representatives of more them 20 member-states.
“In accordance with Section 2.10 and 5.5 of the Operational Guidelines for UNESCO Global Geoparks, the Council shall present a report on its work and decisions to the UNESCO Global Geoparks Bureau. The report will then be circulated to Member States and Associate Member States of UNESCO. Should the UNESCO Executive Board endorse the outcome of the Council during its spring 2023 session, then the designation of these new sites would bring the total number of sites in the Global UNESCO Geoparks Network from 177 to 184 in 48 countries, welcoming New Zealand and the Philippines as new members.”
According to UNESCO, a “global 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. They apply a bottom-up approach, combining conservation with sustainable development while involving local communities.”
The Council met in Satun, Thailand and online on September 4 and 5, 2022, to assess 9 new applications and 28 others for revalidations from current UNESCO Global Geoparks, all of which were submitted between 2019 and 2022.
Chocolate Hills are “The unique karst landscape is composed of smooth, uniformly shaped conical isolated hills that cover a vast area (14,435 ha) in the central portion of the island. The site was once a platform of thick widespread buildup of coral reefs that thrived during the Pliocene, approximately 2-5 million years ago and later to form a sedimentary formation. Soon, this limestone formation was raised above the sea level and fractured. Rainwater, streams and groundwater dissolved the limestone, gradually forming the present landscape of cone karst.”
It is said that there are some 1,776 hills located within the territorial jurisdiction of mainly in Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan towns.
Chocolate Hills are protected under the expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System or NIPAS Act (Republic Act No. 11038 of 2018 signed by then President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The Chocolate Hills is among the 94 protected areas, including the Panglao Island Protected Seascape in Bohol, under the said law. (rvo)