UNESCO Names 18 New Global Geoparks

The UNESCO's list of outstanding Geoparks showcase some of the most beautiful sites of natural beauty around the globe
The Caapava Geopark in Brazil. Photo credit UNESCO
The Caapava Geopark in Brazil. Photo credit UNESCO

The UNESCO Global Geopark designation was established in 2015 to recognise "internationally significant geological heritage." Geoparks benefit local communities by combining conservation with public outreach and a sustainable development approach.

The addition of the 18 additional designations raises the overall number of Geoparks to 195, with a total surface area of 486,709 km2, or twice the size of the United Kingdom. For the first time, two UNESCO Member States have joined the network New Zealand and the Philippines.

The new Geoparks include Brazil's Ca&ccedilapava Geopark and&nbspQuarta Col&ocircnia Geopark.&nbspThe Ca&ccedilapava Geopark is of great significance to the Guarani, an indigenous people in Brazil.&nbspIt is said to be "the place where the jungle ends" in Rio Grande do Sul State, in southernmost Brazil. Its geological legacy, which includes sulphide metals and marble quarrying, has been critical to the region's economic prosperity. The geopark is home to endangered cactus, bromeliads, rare flowers, and bee species, in addition to its geodiversity. The Quarta Col&ocircnia Geopark is located in southern Brazil, between the biomes of Pampa and Atlantic Forest. Its name alludes to the time when Italians conquered the central region of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. There are colonial villas, indigenous vestiges, and quilombola communities  here. The geopark is extremely rich in animal and plant life fossils dating back 230 million years.

The Ijen Geopark in Indonesia is also on the list. Located in East Java Province's Banyuwangi and Bondowoso Regencies, between the strait and the sea, it has become a hub for people migration and business. Ijen is a very active volcano in the Ijen caldera system. High concentrations of sulphur rise from the active crater before igniting when they come into contact with the oxygen-rich atmosphere as the gas burns, it generates an electric blue flame that is distinctive and only seen at night.

Others include Greece's Lavreotiki Geopark, famous for the abundance and variety of its mineralogical specimens Indonesia's Maros Pangkep Geopark located along the southern arm of the island of Sulawesi in the Maros and Pangkep Regencies and Merangin Jambi Geopark which is home to the unique fossils of &ldquoJambi flora&rdquo, which are the only exposed fossilized plants of their kind in the world today.

Check here for the full list of new entrants.

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