Bohol, best known for its renowned Chocolate Hills and world-class diving spots, has been officially recognized as the first global geopark in the Philippines by Unesco, the United Nations’ cultural agency.
Unesco’s declaration adds Bohol to the prestigious list of 195 sites in 48 countries that bear the title of a global geopark. The designation, established in 2015, acknowledges the outstanding geological heritage of these locations on an international scale.
The announcement took place during the 216th session of the Unesco executive board, held in Paris on Wednesday.
Unesco emphasized that geoparks play a vital role in benefiting local communities by preserving their significant geological treasures, engaging the public, and promoting sustainable development practices.
The agency cited the Danajon Double Barrier Reef, which is composed of two sets of extensive offshore coral reefs formed by tidal currents and coral growth. The reef stands as one of only six documented double barrier reefs worldwide.
Unesco also acknowledged Bohol’s Can-umantad waterfalls, a three-tiered waterfall and the highest in the province. The uplifted marine terrace in the town of Loon, aptly referred to by residents as the “coral garden,” also earned recognition.
One of the largest islands in Visayas, Unesco said that Bohol’s geological identity has taken shape over 150 million years, shaped by periods of tectonic activity that raised the island from the ocean depths.
Among the newly designated geoparks, Bohol joins the ranks of other distinguished locations such as Caçapava and Quarta Colônia in Brazil; Lavreotiki in Greece; Ijen, Maros Pangkep, Merangin Jambi, and Raja Ampat in Indonesia; Aras and Tabas in Iran; and Hakusan Tedorigawa in Japan.
The list also includes Kinabalu in Malaysia, Waitaki Whitestone in New Zealand, Sunnhordland in Norway, Jeonbuk West Coast in the Republic of Korea, Cabo Ortegal in Spain, Khorat in Thailand, and Mourne Gullion Strangford in the United Kingdom.
Governor Aris Aumentado of Bohol expressed immense pride in this remarkable achievement, stating, “This is a great milestone for Bohol—one that fills us with immense pride. I hope this recognition will inspire other localities in our country to preserve and cherish their geological sites.”
Governor Aumentado also emphasized that Bohol would strengthen its tourism industry to attract more visitors while safeguarding its ecological sites.
The provincial government released a statement explaining that a team of researchers led by the University of the Philippines’ School of Urban Planning had conducted extensive investigations since 2013 to identify a site in the Philippines with significant geological heritage worthy of inclusion in Unesco’s global geopark network. After years of thorough research and consultations with local communities, the team concluded that Bohol possessed the most exceptional qualifications for this recognition.
“Bohol’s geopark is not only a testament to the dynamic history of our planet, beautifully preserved in the diverse rocks and landforms found on and around the island, but it also represents the resilience and unwavering spirit of the Boholanos in the face of geological hazards,” stated the Unesco National Commission of the Philippines.
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