Where sustainability meets heritage: How Bohol became the Philippines’ first global geopark

Bohol first global geopark
The Chocolate Hills of Bohol have been lauded by UNESCO, which has recently designated the island as a global geopark. Bohol Provincial Government photo.

‌The island of Bohol has been declared by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as the first Global Geopark of the Philippines.‌

Bohol is among the 18 new destinations named in the global geoparks list released last May 24, 2023, during the 216th Executive Board Session of UNESCO in Paris, France. The list includes sites in Greece, Japan, and Norway, with the Philippines and New Zealand, joining the list for the first time.

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UNESCO global geoparks are internationally-renowned destinations with a unique geological heritage. According to UNESCO, a global geopark “provides for the social and economic needs of the local populations, protects the landscape in which they live, and conserves their cultural identity”.

‌The designation gives Bohol membership in Global Geoparks Network, which comprises 194 other geoparks worldwide. The community fosters knowledge-sharing and promotes other collaborative activities.

“By adopting the geopark concept, relevant stakeholders from both the public and private sectors are encouraged to work together, fostering the promotion and practice of geoheritage conservation, geoscience education, environmental awareness, cultural heritage preservation, and sustainable development within the geopark,” the Bohol Provincial Government added.

UNESCO described Bohol as “a prime eco-cultural destination thanks to its white sand beaches, diving spots, magnificent geological formations, rich biodiversity, and cultural heritage”. The organization mentioned the distinctive karstic geosites in the area, particularly the Chocolate Hills.

The organization also lent praise to the island’s rare geological phenomena. UNESCO remarked, “The Danajon Double Barrier Reef along the northern coast is the only one of its kind in Southeast Asia and one of just six documented double barrier reefs on Earth.”

“The island’s geological identity has been pieced together over 150 million years, as periods of tectonic turbulence have raised the island from the ocean depths,” UNESCO said. “Its traditions and culture are proof of how its people adapted to their natural environment.”

“May this milestone inspire us more to collaborate for the sustainable development of our geopark and serve as an inspiration for other regions and provinces in the Philippines to follow suit,” the Bohol Provincial Government imparted.

In 2021, the Bohol government established a Communal Garden to promote sustainable food sources for rural women. Bohol environmentalist Pedro Angco Jr. also created viral artworks advocating for cleaner seas in 2020.

SEND CONGRATULATIONS in the comments below to the people of Bohol for making history as the first global geopark in the Philippines!

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Summer is a political science student with a twin passion for journalism. Her hobbies include watching geography documentaries, searching the metro for plant-based food, and free-falling through Wikipedia rabbit holes. Her works have previously been featured in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.