UNESCO Global Geopark tag for Mount Popa would bring pride to local community

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Myanmar has some sites which are worthy of being designated as Global Geoparks by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Of these sites, an area spanning over 360 square miles around Mandalay Region’s Mount Popa has good potential as a UNESCO Global Geopark site.
Geologists have discovered animal fossils, including jaws of elephants that could be between 20 and 25 million years old, teeth fossils, and deer horns, and a furnace from the Bagan era in the area around Mount Popa, which is also rich in biodiversity.
The discoveries at the Popa Geopark area are invaluable for geological studies. Steps are under way to get the area designated as a Global Geopark.
The purpose of establishing geoparks is to protect important and rare geological resources and the natural environment, carry out geoscience research, and promote the sustainable development of the local society.
UNESCO’s work with geoparks began in 2001. At present, there are 147 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 41 countries. UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas, where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed through a holistic approach involving protection, education, and sustainable development.
A UNESCO Global Geopark uses its geological heritage, in connection with all other aspects of the area’s natural and cultural heritage, to improve awareness and understanding of key issues facing society, such as using our earth’s resources in a sustainable manner, mitigating the effects of climate change, and reducing natural disaster-related risks.
By raising awareness of the importance of the area’s geological heritage in history and society today, UNESCO Global Geoparks give local people a sense of pride in their region and strengthen their identification with the area.
As the nature of a geopark is different from Ramsar sites and sanctuaries, which are under the management of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, we need cooperation from the ministries and organizations concerned to get the Mount Popa area designated as a Global Geopark.
According to the UNESCO’s description of geoparks, a Global Geopark designation requires a commitment from local communities and a long-term agenda that involves “showcasing and protecting the area’s geological heritage”.
The Global Geopark Working Committee, which was formed recently, would work to reach that goal and carry out necessary tasks once the area gets the UNESCO tag.
The inclusion of the Mount Popa area on UNESCO’s list would be the first such honor for Myanmar.

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