UNESCO hands over Asia’s biggest GeoParks in Bohol

By Rey Anthony Chiu | 09:16 AM June 27, 2023

The United Nation’s Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) through its local UNESCO National Commission (UNACOM) handed 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.

In simple ceremonies at the Capitol June 22, UNACOM Secretary General Dr. Ivan Anthony Henares handed to Governor Erico Aristotle Aumentado the UNESCO Global Geopark Plaque, which the governor also shared during the formal hand-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 were technical advisers in the Bohol geoparks project said of the list of sites, Bohol 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 in May 24, 2023 when the UNESCO in a conference in Paris, adopted the resolution for the initiation of Bohol into the geoparks network.

In several times when these would demand lengthy council deliberation, without question and doubts, 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 and 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 handover.
Henares, who had an engagement in Manila could not join the Chocolate Hills handover.

The global geopark designation for Bohol includes marine protected areas offshore of Bohol.

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

For the designation, Aumentado pressed in 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, Nancy Rowena Agoda said it was Director 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.

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