Rinjani Became GEO Park

Mount Rinjani on Lombok Island, West Nusa Tenggara, may soon be classed as a geopark, a nationally protected area containing a number of geological heritage sites of importance, rarity or aesthetic appeal.

An official at the province’s Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, Heriyadi Rahmat, said UNESCO had accepted nominations to include Mount Rinjani in the global geopark network.

The UN body has also accepted similar nominations for Mount Batur in Bangli regency, Bali; and Mount Sewu in Pacitan, East Java.

Heriyadi, who is also the coordinator of the team that proposed Rinjani’s inclusion into the network, said they are currently preparing to complete the application form.

He said the form includes information that identifies Rinjani’s region, geological description, economic situation (from population, infrastructure and manpower), natural landscape (climate, biology and habitat) as well as human activities (archeological and cultural heritage).

“The form includes management plans and structure, policy strategy, sustainable development and action plans,” said Heriyadi, who is a member of the Indonesian Geologists Association.

“Rinjani meets physical requirements to become a geopark.”

His team has recently met with Director General of Tourism Destination at the Culture and Tourism Ministry to discuss the proposal.

UNESCO’s assessment team, comprising members from China, France, Italy and Malaysia, is expected to arrive and verify the Rinjani proposal in April.

The UNESCO team will also verify two other sites, Mount Batur and Mount Sewu.
The world heritage sites are part of an integrated concept of protection, education and sustainable development.

As of August 2009, 64 national geoparks in 19 states are members of the Global Network of National Geoparks assisted by UNESCO.

Southeast Asia only has one, on Langkawi Island in Malaysia.

Once included in the network, Rinjani’s management responsibility will be shared and UNESCO will assist in its promotion.

Heriyadi said the proposal to include Mount Rinjadi as one of the geoparks under UNESCO was put forth in mid-2008.

The process is ongoing, including with the team’s presentation at the 11th Geo Southeast Asia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in June last year.

“Rinjani meets physical requirements to become a geopark,” Heriyadi said.

The 3,726-meter mountain is a unique site, with the presence of crescent-shaped Segara Anak lake on its crater and active volcano Baru Jari nearby.

Mount Rinjani is the second-highest volcano in the country after the 3,800-meter Mount Kerinci in Sumatra. Its peak is located on the eastern park of the caldera, where a new active volcano has emerged.

Based on research, the mountain had several major eruptions, which formed extraordinary natural stone morphology within the Mount Rinjani National Park area.

The mountain, as part of the national park, is currently managed by Rinjani Trek Management Board, a body comprising members of the government, NGOs, the community and tourism businesspeople.

Since managed by the board, the mountain has received several awards, locally and internationally, including the 2004 World Legacy Award and was finalist of the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards in 2005 and 2008.

Apart from its extraordinary scenery and unique flora and fauna, the region is also home to rich traditional customs, traditions and communities.

Last year along, the park was visited by 4,800 foreign tourists and 3,500 domestic ones.

“As a volcano, Rinjani has great geotourism potential with its scenic caldera, lake, crater, waterfall, hot water spring, its eruption history and many more,” he said.

However, he noted low support from the provincial administration on the proposal, saying it was maybe because the idea being put forward by the professional organization, not the geologists association.

Other proposals, both in Bali and East Java, came from the local administrations.
Head of Tourism and Culture Office Lalu Gita Aryadi, was hopeful the proposal could be realized.

“If it was named the world’s geopark, more tourists would come.”

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