Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam were the recipients this year of the Geopark Label by UNESCO.
On April 17, UNESCO Executive Board revealed which destinations would be attributed a Global Geopark Label in 2018. The cultural organisation gave the distinction to 13 sites in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. Southeast Asia has been extremely well represented with three countries -Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam- being named with a total of four destinations. UNESCO’s Geoparks demonstrate the diversity of the planet’s geology. They are currently 140 sites carrying the label today.
ASEAN new sites are:
- Ciletuh-Palabuhanratu, Indonesia
Ciletuh-Palabuhanratu Geopark in West Java, is named after the Ciletuh River and Palabuhanratu (Queen harbour), in reference to the legend about a South Ocean Queen who was said to be the guardian of the area. The oldest rocks in the Geopark were formed by the subduction process between the Eurasian and the Indian Ocean tectonic plates. Currently three village communities maintain their ancestral Kasepuhan traditions, notably in agriculture and paddy farming (called tatanen). Ciletuh plateau has a horseshoe shaped valley that opens into the sea to form such a natural amphitheatre.
- Rinjani Lombok, Indonesia
The nearly circular-shaped Lombok Island with its 70-kilometre ‘tail’ of a peninsula, is one of the Sunda Kecil Islands, located between Bali and Sumbawa. The geology of Lombok Island is dominated by Quaternary calc-alkaline volcanoes covering the Neogene clastic sedimentary rocks, the Oligo-Miocene volcanics and the Palaeogene-aged intrusive igneous rocks. The formation of the volcanic complex is due to the subduction of the Indian Ocean tectonic plate under the edge of the South East Asia tectonic plate. The Sasak population of Lombok is multi-ethnic and multicultural. The diversity of the Sasaks’ cultural heritage is reflected in buildings such as temples and old mosque.
- Satun, Thailand
Satun Geopark is known as a peaceful place of great natural beauty. Multiple cultures and groups, including Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and smaller groups, such as the Semung or Maniq and Urak Lawoi (or Chao le in Thai language), live here together in harmony in this area. It is well known as the land of Palaeozoic fossils due to their abundance, high diversity and remarkable succession of fossil including trilobites, brachiopods, stromatolites, conodonts, graptolites, tentaculites and nautiloids. The inhabitants’ main economic activities centre on agriculture, fishery, tourism, and small local business.
- Cao Bang, Viet Nam
The Cao Bang Geopark in a mountainous area in the northeast of the country. Geologically Cao Bang Geopark can be divided into two distinct parts by the so-called Cao Bang-Tien Yen deep-seated active fault. The eastern part of the area is composed of Palaeozoic limestones. The western part features sedimentary rocks, pillow basalts, ultra-mafic and granitic intrusions rich in minerals and hydrothermal alterations. The majority of its population belongs to one of nine different ethnic groups with distinct, rich cultural identities and traditions.