‘Irresponsible’ activities banned in Qeshm Geopark to save UNESCO tag

September 12, 2020 - 19:51

TEHRAN – Any form of ‘irresponsible’ activities across Iran’s Qeshm Geopark has been ruled to be terminated across Qeshm Geopark, which is on the verge of losing its UNESCO status due to years of misconduct.

“Any land operation and activity within the Qeshm GeoPark was ruled to be terminated by [Hormozgan] province’s council for the protection of treasury rights in national lands and natural resources,” Ali Salehi, a top judiciary official, said on Saturday.

Speaking at a press conference, Salehi attached great importance to the Qeshm Geopark as the sole geopark in West Asia, which is also home to Namakdan Cave that is one of the longest salt caves in the world.

“This unique and exceptional phenomenon (Qeshm Geopark) requires great care and attention to be preserved because this natural attraction is a valuable heritage for the future [generations] and a big asset for the country.”

Registration of this important site as a UNESCO World Heritage points to its special prominence, which is a great honor for the Islamic Republic of Iran, particularly for Hormozgan province, the official added.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Salehi emphasized the need for the protection of the rights of investors who have financed shrimp farming projects in these lands, noting “Damages to investors should be determined to compensate their losses or allocate them suitable pieces of land in other locations outside the Geopark.”

Initially added to the coveted network in 2006, Qeshm Geopark was dropped from the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) in 2013 due to the authorities’ failure to address the site’s problems, such as underdeveloped infrastructure and unenforced environmental regulations.

After years of back and forth and discussions with UNESCO experts, Iranian authorities submitted the geopark's dossier for review last year and it received the provisional approval during the Seventh International Conference on UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network in Torquay, England.

In 2017, the geopark managed to reclaim its global status, after 10 days of deliberation by UNESCO's Executive Board in Paris. Seven other geological sites were also added to the list, according to a press release on GGN's website.

UNESCO announced that the Qeshm Geopark will be a UNESCO site until 2020 when its members will be reviewed.

Describing Qeshm as "an island shaped like a dolphin in the Strait of Hormuz, off the southern coast of Iran", the press release on GGN's website points to the island's geological formations that have been shaped by erosion that created "a range of spectacular landscapes and beautiful rock deserts".

One of Iran’s seven free zones, Qeshm Island is a top holiday destination and a treasure trove of natural and ecological attractions in the Persian Gulf. The island is a heaven for eco-tourists as it embraces wide-ranging attractions such as the Hara marine forests and about 60 villages dotted mostly across its rocky coastlines.

Aside from the geopark, sun, and sandy beaches, the island’s famed mangrove forests in the Hara Protected Area attract a large number of domestic and foreign tourists. Hara Protected Area is one of the five forests in Hormozgan Province and arguably the most important feature of Qeshm Geopark. With an area of 85,686 hectares, Hara is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The ecological importance of the forests has compelled local officials to build a new museum dedicated to showcasing the woodland’s ecological features.


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