Geoparks are unified geographical regions which advance the usage and protection of landscapes and sites of geological importance in a sustainable method while improving the lives of the people living there. Geoparks inform the world about the sustainable use of all the natural resources while promoting the integrity of the landscape and respect for our environment. The Global Geopark Network is a network which helps conserve and promote the global geological heritage while encouraging the concerned community to do some sustainable developments and research.
Geoparks in the Middle East
Queshm Geopark was the first geopark in the Middle East to be designated by UNESCO in 2006. Queshm Geopark is in the Hormuz Strait in south Iran. It is on the western parts of Queshm Island which is the largest Persian Island that hosts over 25% of the native birds in Iran. It has the largest salt cave in the world and a Hara Forest. The cave is about 19,685 ft long, and it features numerous substantial salt mega domes, salt rivers, and fragile salt sculptures.
Troodos Geopark occupies about 45% of the Troodos mountainous range which is an area of approximately 529 sq miles. It is in the middle parts of Cyprus, and it encompasses four districts including Lemesos, Pafos, Lefkosia, and Larnaka. The Troodos ophiolite in Cyprus is famous among geoscientists for its well preserved and exposed plutonic volcanic rocks. These rocks were formed over 92 million years ago when the seafloor spread over the subduction zone in the Neotethys Ocean during the Mesozoic Era. The park includes over one hundred and ten municipalities with over 250,000 inhabitants.
Kula Volcanic Geopark
Kula Geopark is a protected region of geological heritage in Kula, Turkey. UNESCO designated it in 2013, and it is the only geopark in Turkey. Kula Volcanic Geopark occupies an area of about 120 sq miles in Kula district and the northern parts of Salihli district. It is the youngest Turkish volcanic field with five maars and 80 scoria cones. It also has some Basalt columns known as Burgaz volcanic and lava caves.
Ngorongoro Lengai Geopark
Ngorongoro Geopark is in the northern parts of Tanzania, and it encompasses various districts including Monduli, Karatu, and Ngorongoro. The most important feature of the geopark is the Ngorongoro crater and its environs which are home to a wide wildlife diversity which includes gazelles, black rhinos, and elephants among others. Its altitude ranges from the highest point of the park (the 9,718 ft tall Oldonyo Lengai) and the lowest area of the central crater being 1,969 ft tall. The Oldoinyo Lengai is the youngest active strato-volcano in the region located on the northern end of the park.
Geoparks in Africa
M’Goun Global Geopark
M’Goun Global Geopark is at the center of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco about 205 miles from Casablanca and 62 miles from Marrakech. The geological history of this area matches the geological evolution of the middle Atlas Mountain which dates to about 250 million years ago. The geopark’s geological heritage includes numerous outstanding paleontological and mineralogical features like the sauropods and theropods. The area has many minerals including dolomitic, limestone, basalt, iron, zinc and copper.
The Middle East and Africa have a rich geo-diversity which is unknown to the world due to lack of awareness and research. Currently, there are only 4 geoparks in the Middle East and 1 found in Africa. The African and Arabian nations were left behind for almost a decade, and the lack of research meant there are numerous areas of geological importance yet to be designated by UNESCO. The first Arabian and African Geoparks International Conference was held in Morocco in November 2011, and they focused on the aspiring Geoparks in these continents.