Savannas to rainforests – these are Asia’s newest Geoparks

Geoparks

There are 140 geoparks in the world, many being in Asia. Source: Shutterstock

UNESCO has just named 13 new Global Geoparks across Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, seven of them can be found in enchanting landscapes around Asia.

What is a Geopark?

UNESCO recognizes Global Geoparks as single unified geographical areas, managed and protected with a holistic approach.

Geoparks are also educational areas where local communities can contribute towards sustainable development and conservation.

UNESCO Global Geoparks employ a bottom-up approach to empower communities including landowners, indigenous people and tourism providers.

Working together, UNESCO and locals can promote geological processes, historical themes and natural beauty.

The leaderboard:

With the new additions, there are now 140 UNESCO Global Geoparks across 38 countries, with 57 of them residing in Asia.

  • 37 in China
  • 9 in Japan
  • 4 in Indonesia
  • 3 in South Korea
  • 2 in Vietnam
  • 1 in Malaysia
  • 1 in Thailand
  • 1 in Iran

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the newly designated UNESCO Global Geoparks because they each received their titles for good reason.

China

Accounting for numbers 36 and 37 on China’s Global Geopark list are Guangwushan-Nuoshuihe Bazhong City, Sichuan Province and Huanggang Dabieshan in Hubei Province.

Gangwushan-Nuoshuihe is a place where a subtropical climate meets deep cut mountains covered in lush emerald and amber flora. The area also reveals part of the Yangtze tectonic plate, thundering waterfalls, clear ponds and karst landforms giving way to caves.

Across the country to the East is Huanggang Dabieshan Global Geopark is home to 2.8-billion-year-old rock formations, meandering rivers, and picturesque rice paddies.

The park is home also to around 8.1 million inhabitants who are mostly agricultural producers.

The area’s new Global Geopark status will hopefully see more visitors to the area, contributing to the local economy by staying at local guesthouses, enjoying local cuisine and taking in the spectacular views.

Japan

Described as land in motion, Japan’s Izu Peninsula on the main island of Honshu is home to imposing volcanoes drenched in green vegetation.

The newly crowned Global Geopark also offers dramatic and ever-changing topography as the Philippine Sea suddenly stops, giving way to vertical cliffs angling into jutting mountain ranges.

Due to the area’s history of natural disasters including tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the local community have erected over 90 shrines to please the deities they believe cause these catastrophes.

South Korea

Mudeugsan Global Geopark can be found in the southern part of the Korean peninsula surrounding the towering Mount Mudeung which formed over 87 million years ago.

The Global Geopark covers over 1000 square kilometers and magnificently displays seven different points in geological history, including some ancient dinosaur footprints.

Thailand

Thailand’s first and only Global Geopark, Satun, also had prehistoric fossils dating back millions of years.

The Geopark covers four districts, two national parks, a wildlife sanctuary and golden beaches. It serves as a rich and diverse educational location and a welcoming retreat for tourists who can explore the caves in kayaks, soak up the sun on the beaches or snorkel with the tropical fish.

Vietnam

Vietnam’s Cao Bang Geopark also received acclaim in the recent designations. Over 90 percent of this park is covered by mountainous landforms with rich biodiversity, tropical animals and endemic flora including wild herbs.

Each year the local people of Cao Bang Geopark hold l festivals and handcraft workshops showcasing their customs to intrigue visitors and keep traditions alive.

Indonesia

Known as the tropical bridge between Asia and Australia, Rinjani-Lombok UNESCO Global Geopark has stunning changing landscapes from savannahs to tropical montane and jutting volcanoes displaying Mother Nature’s glory.

The park boasts world class hikes both gentle and challenging, as well as plenty of fascinating sites for those interested in Indonesia’s archaeology.

Last but certainly not least to make the list is Ciletuh-Palabuhanratu. The ongoing volcanic action on the Island of Java has caused the incredible landscapes to continuously change over millions of years.

This has created natural hot springs, geysers and geothermal recourses in the northern part of the Geopark.

These natural attractions alongside turtle conservation, rock climbing, waterfalls and a plethora of water sports activities have been enticing tourist for the last decade and will continue to do so in the future.