Monday - 30/07/2018 12:19
     Quang Ngai is a coastal province in the central region of Vietnam, exposing to the sea with a coastline of 130km. With total area of over 5,000 km2, Quang Ngai terrain is diverse with mountains, highlands, lowlands and islands. Considered as the cradle of Sa Huynh Culture, one of three major ancient cultures in Vietnam, then followed by Champa, Quang Ngai has huge potential of cultural heritage still unearthened. It is also home of three ethnic groups residing in upland areas with distinct cultural identities.

     Not only cultural values, geological study has been undertaken by local professionals in the past decades as the territory’s geological features are closedly linked to major complexes and formations in the region. However, these geological values may have not been disclosed to wide communities and brought to real life till suddenly …

     A discovery of wrecked vessels in Binh Chau offshore resulted into an international workshop in October 2014 by Doan Anh Duong JSC with primary objectives to preserve the shipwreck graveyard for cultural study and tourism purposes. It is in the workshop that local and international experts discussed about heritage values and during the field trip to Ly Son island, an initiative of a UNESCO Global Geopark as the precedent in Ha Giang was formed.

     From then, many national and international delegations have been invited to the territory to conduct further surveys and investigations in Ly Son island and adjacent Binh Chau coastline where are home of various volcanic activities. As it would be more appropriate for the local government to take over the role of applicant, with support from Doan Anh Duong JSC, a project of aspiring geopark was prepared and the province decided to go for it. By late 2017, the project was finally approved and Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism is commissioned as the focal point for the project.

     Early 2018, a management board is set up and with consultancy support from Vietnam Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, a series of survey trips to Ly Son island and extended areas have been undertaken with the participation of lead national and international experts to study geological features and to validate international significance, among others.

     During the inventory process, it is advised to the provincial government that diverse cultural and intangible heritages shall be integrated, especially Sa Huynh Culture. It is then recommended an extended area of up to 2,000 km2, covering one third of the province area. With almost 20 times as large as the initial territory, workload would be multiplied on the shoulders of the project staff and partners. The timeframe was then extended to at least another year.

     It is worth noting here that as per Global Geoparks Network’s guideline, ‘a geopark is not specifically a new category of protected area or landscape,’ meaning apart from essentially protected sites, all development activities can go normally provided that they should be undertaken with care and caution not to do harmful to the heritages. This seems to be reasonable for any territory pursuing the sustainable development principles.

     It is still early to say about its future as all relevant stakeholders are currently making efforts to do inventory of the heritages, but we can be proud with rich natural and cultural heritages bestowed on the territory. The application dossier is planned to be finalized and submitted to UNESCO by late 2019, we are entitled to dream that the designation label would then serve as an impetus for local sustainable development.
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