People, Travel

Iran-Portugal Geopark Link Up Espoused

Iran-Portugal Geopark Link Up EspousedIran-Portugal Geopark Link Up Espoused

A senior UNESCO geoparks evaluator believes establishing ties between Portuguese geoparks and the Qeshm Geopark could help the latter regain its place on the List of Global Geoparks and promote Iranian tourism on the world stage.

Speaking to IRNA, Jose Bernando Rodrigues Brilha, a Portuguese academic and evaluator at the UNESCO-sponsored Global Geoparks Network, said Qeshm Island in the Persian Gulf boasts unique natural attractions, including the Valley of Stars and the Hara Forests, which make its relisting as a global geopark necessary.

“Once the geopark complies with international standards, there is nothing stopping it from making its way back on the list,” Brilha said.

Qeshm Geopark was the first of its kind in the Middle East to become a member of the Global Geoparks Network in 2006. However, it was dropped from the coveted list in 2013 due to problems that have remained unresolved for too long, such as underdeveloped infrastructure and unenforced environmental regulations.

Since then, Qeshm Free Zone Organization has been trying to bring the island up to international standards and has received five billion rials ($153,000) to develop infrastructure.

Finland, Norway, Iceland and Portugal have expressed readiness to help Iran’s only geopark meet UNESCO’s criteria to reenter the list.

A geopark is a unified area with geological heritage of international significance. Geoparks use this heritage to promote awareness of key issues in the context of planet Earth.

The Global Geopark Network has been established by UNESCO to register such parks, protect geoparks, provide education and set standards for green tourism.

To comply with UNESCO standards, a geopark must have appropriate infrastructure and adequate accommodation for tourists, in line with environmental standards while protecting the natural landscape.