People, Travel

UN Nod for Qeshm Geopark

UN Nod for Qeshm Geopark  UN Nod for Qeshm Geopark

Qeshm Geopark in south in Iran is now a step closer to regaining its spot on the Global Geoparks Network after receiving a thumbs-up from UNESCO.

The Middle East’s only UNESCO-listed geopark, Qeshm Geopark was dropped from the coveted list in 2012 due to problems that have remained unresolved for too long, such as underdeveloped infrastructure and unenforced environmental regulations.

In November last year, Iranian officials submitted the geopark dossier to the UN body after redefining environmental regulations, restoring a number of sites in the park and improving infrastructure, ISNA reported.

Deeming it incomplete, UNESCO sent the dossier back and suggested changes to be made before the organization could review it again. The dossier was resubmitted to UNESCO in February, and it has now been approved.

“But it doesn’t mean the geopark is once again a member of the GGN,” said Alireza Amrikazemi, head of the geopark and geotourism department at the Geological Survey of Iran.

According to Amrikazemi, approval of the dossier means that UNESCO evaluators will travel to Iran to assess the progress of the geopark’s development before recommending its reentry to the GGN.

In a bid to promote the geopark on Qeshm Island, officials have renamed an important square on the island to ‘Geopark’ and installed boards around the square that include trivia about the geopark, which is home to over 3,000 animal species.

Furthermore, a pavilion has been set up at Qeshm International Airport that introduces the geopark in an effort to boost tourism in the area.

Located in the Persian Gulf, Qeshm Island is a treasure trove of natural and ecological attractions. Aside from the geopark, sun and sandy beaches, the island’s famed mangrove forests in the Hara Protected Area draw large numbers of domestic and foreign tourists.

Hara Protected Area is one of five forests in Hormozgan Province and arguably the most important feature of Qeshm Geopark. With an area of 85,686 hectares, Hara is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.