4-year voyage to put recommendations into practice at Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark12/12/2018

Like other members of the Global Geoparks Network in the world, the Dong Van Karst Plateau UNESCO Global Geopark implements the construction and development plan every four years. As one of the young members, Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark has to carry out many tasks and recommendations according to the criteria set by the Global Geoparks Network in order to achieve sustainable development.In the period 2014 – 2018, Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark has put 16 recommendations of the Global Geoparks Network Specialist into practice, which focuses on issues such as: improving the park information system; preserving and promoting local geological, cultural and local values; providing sustainable livelihoods and focusing on empowering local people; ensuring the environmentally friendly process of constructing infrastructure; paying more attention to the development of geological tourism, the network of geopark trails in association with the quality of local tour guides; supporting local businesses and products, improving the quality of the geopark partners; raising awareness of the park through community education; actively participating and enhancing the member performance in the Global Geoparks Network … The management board of the geopark has coordinated with the central ministries and government agencies to organize a seminar on geological park, and hold a training course on geological heritage as well as organize field trips for tourism research and development purposes.

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Dong Van Karst Plateau UNESCO Global Geopark has various types of valuable geological heritage, cultural heritage, biological cultural heritage. Since 2014 we have investigated and supplemented documents on the value of geological, cultural and social heritage as well as biodiversity; the boundaries of the heritage sites. Besides, the heritage management and protection has been handed over to the local authorities and communities. The relevant government departments have ranked 10 more historic – cultural landmarks and scenic spots in the area.

In the effort to improve information processing, the information system of the park has been being completed scientifically and has formed three tourist routes with 45 tourist places. 4 information centers in the park area and a tourist support center in the province have been built and promoted. Geological heritage sites officially open to the public, with signposts, parking signs, signboards; tourist maps, guiding documents for visitors. The provincial museum systems and the information centers regularly have show booths with many themes of Karst Plateau Geopark. There are 21 free wifi spots built in the park area and Ha Giang province for tourism development. Promotion of tourism activities in the Park is of interest. Management Board of Geopark actively promotes the image of the Park widely on websites of Ha Giang province, 8 North-Western provinces, and mass media such as facebook and other social networks.

Especially, public awareness raising activities are paid more attention. The province has promulgated plans and programs, with the support of entire political system, to propagate, build and preserve the values of the heritage sites within in Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark. The relevant government departments and localities have made a remarkable effort to propagate, especially in remote villages, border areas through various forms, which have contributed to raising public awareness of protecting, building and developing the geopark.

In efforts to improve the quality of life for local people in the geopark, over the years, in addition to the government investment policies for development, the province has established the economic modeling of agricultural systems in the region. Additionally, there are various training courses, technology transfer process related to local plants and animals held for residents. They also increase crop rotation, enhance product value per unit of cultivated land as well as develop hygienic and safe ranching models. The new rural development program in the province is being strengthened with positive results. The province also creates favorable conditions for attracting investment with a view to developing tourism and services, which do not negatively affect the heritage sites and landscape of the park and promoting the development of traditional handicraft villages, indigenous products.

In order to meet the requirements for constructing and developing the Dong Van Karst Plateau UNESCO Global Geopark according to the criteria provided by the Network, on October 13th, 2017, Ha Giang People’s Committee issued a decision regarding the establishment of the Steering Committee for Tourism Development of Dong Van Karst Plateau UNESCO Global Geopark. There are 35 members from Ha Giang province that promulgate the operational regulations of the Steering Committee focusing strongly on the construction and development of the geopark according to UNESCO criteria.It can be affirmed that during the period from 2014 to 2018, thanks to the support of Government, the global geopark network, international organizations and scientists as well as the efforts of the Party and local people in Ha Giang province, Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark have strongly promoted the construction, conservation and development, which enables the geopark to satisfy the network’s criteria. Although there are many existing difficulties, we still take pride in having disseminated our distinctive and meaningful values to the world. The building of the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark has contributed to promoting socio-economic development, which makes a positive impact on the lives of the local people in the 4 mountainous districts in particular and Ha Giang Province in general.

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Meo Vac town is getting more spacious and becoming a tourist attraction on the geopark.

With the aim of continuing to promote the value of the geopark as well as meeting the criteria and recommendations from the Global Geoparks Network and the needs of socio-economic development, it is necessary to pay more attention and make the best use of the cooperation among the whole provincial political system, the government and relevant agencies. On that basis, it is necessary to continue implementing tourism infrastructure projects in accordance with the Master Plan of Dong Van Karst Plateau UNESCO Global Geopark approved by the Government. There should also be a policy to provide alternative roofing materials for poor households to replace fibro cement panels. Besides, the province should implement projects on upgrading infrastructure, providing clean water in Dong Van karst plateau, constructing the nature museum as well as upgrading, repairing and renovating information centers in the region … It is important to maitain good coordination between relevant agencies and localities in management of infrastructure construction, exploitation of geological, cultural and biodiversity’s value for tourism development purpose. More notably, the local board of management should create an attractive environment for investment in the construction of tourist infrastructures and the development of typical tourist products as well as famous scenic spots of geopark.

Nguyen Thanh Giang

Deputy manager – Dong Van Karst Plateau UNESCO Global Geopark