The interest in UNESCO Global Geoparks raises: Tajikistan hosts a national meeting on its potential geoparks

28 August 2019

The meeting, convened by the Tajikistan National Commission for UNESCO, chaired by the Chairman of the UNESCO National Commission, Minister of Culture Mr Orumbekzoda Shamsiddin and UNESCO office in Almaty, represented by Ms Kristine Tovmasyan, brought together about 45 representatives of national entities of Tajikistan concerned to geosciences, protected areas, tourism, academia and mining.

Following the UNESCO presentation on the concept of the Geoparks, the participants discussed the rich geological diversity of the country and the potential of Tajikistan for the development of certain territories as geoparks. A number of presentations, delivered by various scientific institutions, focused specifically on geological sites of scientific and esthetical value. The link with the cultural and biological diversity has also been mentioned as strength for the country. Among the weaknesses a lack of knowledge on geoparks concept, as well as still prevailing weak institutional capacities in promotion of geotourism, were mentioned. It was also highlighted that more informative programmes are needed to raise awareness and popularize the common natural heritage, including geological one. By raising awareness on the importance of geological heritage in society, people can better appreciate and be proud of their country, as well as strengthen their identification with their country and region. Youth, as the actors of change, were also mentioned. Discussion also largely focused around the issue of national legislation and the protected areas.

The UNESCO Global Geoparks are gaining more interest around the world, including in Central Asian countries. This is unique programme which brings together geosciences, protection and promotion of geological heritage and local community development. Currently at the global level there are 147 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 41 countries, but the distribution of them is very uneven. Therefore, UNESCO strives to assist countries with no geoparks to understand better the concept of the Geoparks and the benefits from establishing ones, - said Kristine Tovmasyan.

The meeting agreed, that a follow-up recommendations will be provided by the National Commission of UNESCO to the Government of Tajikistan for due consideration of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Programme. As the most immediate step it was proposed to establish a national committee to assess the geological sites with a potential value of becoming aspiring geoparks and to further promote geological heritage of the country.

Participants of the meeting Kristine Tovmasyan

Central Asia, rich in geological diversity and formations, up to date, hosts no geoparks, and there are no single UNESCO Global Geopark yet. Providing advise on identification of potential future sites in its cluster countries, is currently an ongoing initiative of the UNESCO office in Almaty. Next it is planned to organize an informative national meeting on geoparks in October for Kyrgyzstan, organized in close cooperation with the Kyrgyzstan National Commission for UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Pamir mountains, rich in geological diversity Kristine Tovmasyan

Inhabitans of Murghab region, Eastern Pamir Kristine Tovmasyan


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