Jakarta, 16/12 /2021 (ANTARA) - Indonesia is the worlds largest archipelagic nation with some 17 thousand islands scattered between the Pacific and Indian oceans.
So far, six Indonesian geoparks have been put on the UNESCO Global Geopark (UGGp) list of 169 geoparks from 44 countries.
To get on the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) list, a geopark does not only need to be an area of unique geological interest, but a place where visitors can discover extraordinary landscapes, places, and people.
UNESCO carefully selects the sites because geoparks represent geological, cultural, natural, and intangible heritage, which is protected, preserved, and developed sustainably by involving the local population.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNESCOs Global Geopark Network (GGN) has launched a 'Territories of resilience' initiative on April 2,1 2021, to support the population of geoparks.
According to the GGN, a resilient territory does not only try to respond to disruption and crisis by making efforts to bring the system back into balance, but also attempts to develop solutions that bring a system in a new state that is capable of dealing with present and future challenges.
A geopark is not just a geological park, Guy Martini, president of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Council, once said.
The presence of geoparks helps preserve nature and culture and improve the economy as well as contribute to the prosperity of local communities, he explained.
Indonesia sees huge potential in developing geoparks in order to support nature and cultural conservation efforts, develop the creative economy, and promote the tourism industry.
Currently, Indonesia has 13 national geoparks, with 6 included on the UGGp list.
The country has at least 110 regions that can potentially be developed into geoparks, according to officials.
To demonstrate the nations seriousness in developing its geoparks, the government established a National Committee of Indonesian Geoparks (KNGI) in 2018.
It is currently making preparations to propose at least 12 more geoparks for the UGGp list, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, while informed at the Indonesian Geopark Summit on November 22, 2021.
This ambition has been outlined in the 20202024 national medium-term development plan, he added.
The 12 geoparks include Ijen in Banyuwangi in East Java province, Maros-Pangkep in South Sulawesi, Raja Ampat in West Papua, Meratos in South Kalimantan, Silokek Sijunjung in West Sumatra, and Merangin in Jambi, he informed.
KNGI said it has been making preparations for getting on the UGGp list by involving the local people, particularly the younger generation, to raise awareness about the preservation of geoparks and derive economic benefits from them.
Speaking at the geopark summit, President Joko Widodo described a geopark as a place to learn and preserve the wealth and biodiversity of Indonesia.
"Please protect our geological wealth by preserving the geological heritage and the values in it, such as the archaeological, ecological, historical, and cultural values, so that they can continue to be passed on to the future generations," he said.
Here are some interesting features of the six Indonesian geoparks that have found a place on the UNESCO listBatur in Bali, Ciletuh-Pelabuhanratu in West Java, Gunung Sewu in Yogyakarta, Rinjani in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), Toba Calderas in North Sumatra, and Belitong in Bangka Belitung province:
1. Batur, Bali was designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark (UGGp) in 2015. Located in northeast Bali, Indonesias most famous tourist resort, it covers an area of 370.5 square kilometers and includes two volcanic calderas, and presents a complete volcanic landscape with caldera walls, cones and craters, fumaroles, hot springs, a lake, lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and tephra.
Two cataclysmic eruptions that occurred 29 thousand years and 20 thousand years ago produced an outer caldera (old) and inner caldera (young), respectively, from which the grand landscape originates.
The double-calderas with a crescent-shaped volcanic lake are considered the finest in the world.
2. Gunung Sewu, designated as UGGp in 2015, stretches over 120 km across several districts (Gunungkidul, Wonogiri, Pacitan) and provinces (Yogyakarta, Central Java, East Java).
It is a classic tropical karst landscape in the south-central part of Java Island, well-known in the world, and dominated by limestone.
In addition to its aesthetic and recreational values, Gunung Sewu is rich in biodiversity, archaeology, history, and culture. The Pacitanian stone culture represents Paleolithic to Neolithic artifacts in Southeast Asia.
Approximately 1,802 square km of Gunung Sewu contains traces of prehistoric settlements. Some of the prehistoric people lived in caves, while others lived in the open.
3. Ciletuh Pelahubanratu in Sukabumi district, West Java province, was designated as UGGp in 2018. The area is characterized by a rare geological diversity that can be classified into three zones: the subduction zone uplifted rocks, the Jampang Plateau landscape, and the ancient magmatic zone-shifting and fore-arc evolution.
Evidence of a similar subduction process that occurred during the Cretaceous age (14566 million years ago) can be found in Ciletuh in the form of rock formations deposited within the deep subduction trench.
The tectonic process during the Miocene-Pliocene period (58 million years ago) led to the gravitational collapse of part of the Jampang Formation, forming the biggest horseshoe-shaped natural amphitheater morphology in Indonesia and a series of waterfalls.
The area can be also described as "the first land of the western Java Island".
4. Rinjani-Lombok made it to the UGGp list in 2018. It is flanked by Bali and the Lombok Strait to the west and Sumbawa and the Alas Strait to the east.
It has a rich and diverse landscape, ranging from savannah and semi-deciduous forests to lower montane evergreen forests and tropical montane evergreen forests.
Quaternary calc-alkaline volcanoes, Oligo-Miocene volcanic rocks, and Neogene intrusive igneous rocks dominate the islands geology.
The old volcano complex consists of Mt. Punikan and Mt. Nangi in the west and Mt. Sembalun in the east. Rising 3,726 m above sea level, Mt. Rinjani is currently the highest peak in the volcanic complex.
The geopark has been described as a tropical bridge between Asia and Australia.
5. Toba Caldera, located in North Sumatra province and designated UGGp in 2020, is Indonesias largest lake filled with rainwater and formed by a mega-volcanic eruption 74 thousand years ago.
When viewed from space, the Toba caldera is one of the most striking volcanic craters on Earth, measuring 100 x 30 kilometers.
In the process of reaching a new equilibrium post a 'super volcano eruption, the bottom of Toba lake was pushed up by residual pressure of the magma chamber to form Samosir Island in the middle of the lake.
The topography of the area around the lake includes undulating hills (43 percent), mountains (30 percent), and plains (27 percent). The geopark is estimated to have a population of 263,978 distributed in seven districts.
6. Belitong, designated a UNESCO geopark in 2021, is located in Bangka Belitung province and covers over 4,800 square kilometers of land and 13 thousand square kilometers of sea. It is surrounded by 241 small islands, including the islands of Mendanau, Kalimambang, Gresik, and Selu.
The geological heritage of Belitong Geopark comprises the TOR granite landscape, which is characterized by the presence of massive granite that has a low proportion of joints on the surface.
These groups of rocks of TOR granite form small islets which can be visited by boat. The area has an excellent sampling of rocks for visitors to capture.The important geological features of NamSalu primary tin deposit in Kelapa camp can be identified from the parameters of the mineral structure. The deposit has been recognized as the most important deposit in the Southeast Asian region.