New aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark proposed to be established in Batken region, Kyrgyzstan

6 October 2021

On September 18-21, an international seminar on Geoparks in Central Asia: areas for geotourism promotion and sustainable management of geological heritage, natural resources and disaster risk reduction was held in Batken, Kyrgyzstan, supported by UNESCO. This seminar, held in online and offline mode, brought together about 70 representatives of academia, government institutions involved in geology, disaster risk reduction, tourism, protected areas, as well as tour operators, civil society organizations, local government representatives, and community members from, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan Russia, Turkey, Switzerland and Germany. The meeting was hosted by Batken state university and organized by the Tien Shan Geological Society and the government of Batken region, in cooperation with the Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Opening ceremony of the seminar Tien Shan Geological Society

During the two-day seminar, various aspects of UNESCO Global Geoparks programme were discussed and presentations were made on preservation of geological heritage, tourism potential, local communities role in promoting nature-based tourism, natural hazards and climate change effect to local communities and other. Examples of existing UNESCO Global Geoparks in Yangan-Tau (Russia) and Kula-Salihli Geopark (Turkey) were presented and discussed.

Local community members in Samarkandyk village weaving carpets Kristine Tovmasyan

During the field trip, the participants visited various sites of significant geological, cultural and historical value, got acquainted with local carpet weaving techniques, as well as witnessed the effects of natural hazards in the region.

Signing of the partnership agreements between UNESCO Global Geoparks in Russia and Turkey, and the Geopark projects in Central Asia Tien Shan Geological Society

As the result of the meeting, an agreement on cooperation was signed between participants from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Russia and Turkey, to promote networking and cooperation between existing UNESCO Global Geoparks, aspiring UNSECO Global Geoparks and geopark projects in Central Asia. Moreover, the government of Batken region supported the necessary works towards the establishment of a geopark.

"The Batken region, with its colorful landscapes, geological diversity, history, culture and natural resources, has a great potential to establish a geopark, for nature preservation local communities development purposes. The geopark will make it possible to preserve the heritage and promote sustainable local development, including through geo-tourism." - Kristine Tovmasyan, Lead, Natural Sciences Unit Programme Specialist, UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office

Field visit during the seminar, an archeological site in Madyge Ilja Kogan

UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. UNESCO office in Almaty supports Central Asian countries with their geopark projects. The event was funded by the regular programme funds, as well as GLOFCA project in relation to natural hazards and DRR sessions. Central Asia region has no UNESCO Global Geoparks yet, so the event in Batken served as a good momentum for promotion of the programme at regional level.

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