Vietnam eyes UNESCO recognition for 2 coastal areas

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 Basalt rocks along the coast of Binh Chau Commune, the central province of Quang Ngai. Photo credit: Minh Hoang/Zing.vn

Scientists have urged local authorities to seek UNESCO recognition as global geoparks for two coastal areas in the central province of Quang Ngai.
They made the proposal at a recent meeting with Quang Ngai authorities after carrying out field trips with foreign scientists to the eastern commune of Binh Chau and Ly Son Island, according to Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper.
Tran Tan Van, chief of the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources, was quoted as saying the areas boast a diversity of geographical layers representing many changes in the Earth's crust, including basalt layers formed from a 10-million-year-old volcano.
Nguyen Hoang, an expert at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, said Ly Son, in particular, is like a "natural museum" of volcanoes, given that 70 percent of its area carries volcanic features.
"It deserves to be named a global geopark."
At least two ancient volcano craters were discovered under the sea near Ly Son, which is situated 15 nautical miles off the coast, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported. Three others were found at Binh Chau's Ba Lang An point, it said.
While agreeing that the areas deserve global recognition, foreign experts said Vietnam need to do many things before applying to UNESCO.
Prof Setsuya Nakada of the University of Tokyo’s Volcano Research Center was quoted as saying at the meeting that Vietnam cannot rely merely on the areas' geological features to get them the recognition, and how they draw the attention of local communities, tourists and world researchers is also important.
The more that people care about the areas, the greater the chance to get UNESCO recognition, he said, adding local authorities should organize spa and diving tours to attract tourists.
Once tourism grows, it will generate revenues for local people who will in turn take part in protecting the sites, according to foreign experts.
Dr Nancy Rhoenar Aguda of the University of the Philippines said the authorities should publish a book about Binh Chau and Ly Son to raise public awareness and launch other community-education activities.
Le Quang Thich, vice chairman of Quang Ngai, agreed to take on board the scientists’ advice and turn Binh Chau and Ly Son into tourist attractions and raise local people's awareness about the need to protect them before submitting the applications to UNESCO.
Dong Van District in the northern province of Ha Giang is Vietnam’s only UNESCO-recognized global geopark.

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