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Cao Bang Geopark recognized by UNESCO

Released at: 08:00, 14/04/2018

Cao Bang Geopark recognized by UNESCO

Ban Gioc Waterfall, a part of Cao Bang geoprak. Photo: Vtv24h.com

Recognition announced at UNESCO Executive Board meeting in Paris on April 12.

by Le Diem

Cao Bang Geopark in the northeastern province of Cao Bang has been placed on the list of the UNESCO Global Network of National Geoparks.

The declaration was announced by UNESCO’s Executive Board during its 204th session in Paris, France on April 12. The title is awarded to single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are rich in scientific, educational, aesthetic, archaeological, historical, social, and cultural values as well as biological diversity.

Cao Bang Geopark was established in 2015 and was submitted to UNESCO for recognition in November 2016. It is the second Vietnamese Global Geopark, after Dong Van Karst Plateau in Ha Giang province in December 2010, to be recognized by UNESCO.

The geopark covers a total area of 3,000 sq km. Mountainous landforms cover approximately 90 per cent of the land area, with elevations ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 meters above sea level in the west-northwest to 200 meters in the east-southeast. With a highland tropical monsoon climate and two distinct wet and dry seasons, it exhibits rich biodiversity, with widespread forests, endemic flora and fauna, herbs, and specialty crops, etc. The region has a complex drainage network that includes five major river systems and 47 lakes.

It is divided into two distinctive parts by the Cao Bang-Tien Yen deep-seated active fault. The eastern part of the geopark is mostly composed of limestone. This demonstrates a complete tropical karst evolution cycle with various classic landforms, for example peak-cluster depressions, cones and towers, old and active caves with magnificent speleothems, closed and interconnected valleys, underground and surface rivers, including a “turlough” lake system, and one of the world’s largest waterfalls, located on the border with China. The western part features sedimentary rocks, pillow basalts, ultra-mafic and granitic intrusions rich in minerals and hydrothermal alterations. The area also reveals sedimentary rocks dating back more than 500 million years, with stratotype cross-sections and fossils indicating different paleo-environments and biosphere extinction events. The diversity in rocks (in stratigraphy, paleontology, paleoenvironment, petrology, and mineralogy, etc.) and landforms (tectonics, geomorphology, karst, weathering, and soil erosion, etc.) are evidence of the geodiversity of the area, each with its own characteristic of different evolutionary stages of the Earth’s crust.

Approximately 250,000 people live in Cao Bang Geopark, 92 per cent of whom belong to one of nine ethnic groups. The area is famous for its diverse ethnic cultural identity with outstanding traditions among ethnic groups, involving festivals, traditional crafts and folk arts. It was home to prehistoric people more than 20,000 years ago and was the capital of a number of feudal dynasties. More recently, it was the cradle of Vietnam’s revolution.

Cao Bang Global Geopark offers not only numerous outstanding historical and archaeological sites but also a rich cultural heritage of national and international significance, lending the Cao Bang area prominence in Vietnam and providing a strong basis for the tourism industry, as it attracts large numbers of domestic and international visitors. One of the most outstanding sites is Ban Gioc Waterfall, 30 meters in height and the largest in Southeast Asia.

Local authorities have drafted plans and taken action to protect the environment, natural resources, and biological diversity as well as the cultural and historical value of the site and to promote tourism with local communities for sustainable socioeconomic development.

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