Quang Ngai halts UNESCO geopark recognition plans hinh anh 1An overview of Ly Son island, off Quang Ngai province coast (Photo courtesy of Bui Thanh Trung)
Quang Ngai (VNA) - Despite having prepared a dossier for the UNESCO recognition of the Ly Son-Sa Huynh Global Geo-Park last November, local authorities have shelved plans to apply for the park's recognition after years of efforts and some 160 field surveys and scientific seminars.

Chairman of the Quang Ngai Provincial People’s Committee Dang Van Minh has confirmed the province was ending the recognition, stating the park, which covers 4,600sq.km, would be used for various socio-economic development purposes.

He said the province had a working session with the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism on the assessment of the park, and the provincial Party Committee’s Standing Board would give a decision on the halt of development activities related to the park later.

“Yet a final decision was made by the provincial Party Committee’s Standing Board and I personally agreed to stop the park development,” Minh said.

The province established the Ly Son-Sa Huynh Geopark in 2015 before preparing for global status recognition by UNESCO from 2017.

The Ly Son-Sa Huynh Global Geopark recognition was set to be decided upon by UNESCO at the general meeting in Jeju, the Republic of Korea, last November, but the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic put paid to those plans, authorities said.

The province suspended all field activities on the park’s file completion process and scientific research in March last year.

According to the management board of the Ly Son-Sa Huynh Geo-Park, the dossier was sent last November for official recognition by UNESCO, and an expert team was assigned to evaluate the value of the Ly Son-Sa Huynh Geo-Park, but the plan was delayed by the pandemic.

Many pieces of scientific and geological research on the Ly Son-Sa Huynh terrain and cultural value were reported at an international conference in 2019, contributing to the dossier before it was submitted to UNESCO.

Experts from the Vietnam Institute of Geo-sciences and Mineral Resources said it takes five to seven years to complete a dossier for geopark recognition, and about seven parks in the world are approved by UNESCO each year.

Top Vietnamese archaeologists, geologists, volcano researchers and historians agreed that the Ly Son Islands, 30km off the coast of Quang Ngai province, were formed by ancient volcanoes that existed more than 25 million years ago.

An area of 4,600sq.km, including more than 2,000sq.km of sea, covering nine districts and islands, was included in the area for global geopark recognition.

The recognition of Ly Son-Sa Huynh as a Global Geo-Park would have promoted the unique culture, rich biodiversity and extinct volcanoes around Ly Son Islands.

Vietnam has three global geoparks recognised by UNESCO – Dong Van Karst Plateau in the northern province of Ha Giang (in 2010), Cao Bang Geopark (2018) and Dak Nong Geopark in 2020./.