FOR the first time, the Philippines made it to the list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (Unesco) geoparks.
According to a statement by the Geopark on Wednesday, the decision took place during Unesco's 216th executive board meeting in Paris, France.
Bohol was cited for its world-famous Chocolate Hills and the Danajon Double Barrier Reef.
"Bohol Island, along with 17 other new geoparks, will soon join the Global Geoparks Network, bringing the total number of members to 195 this year," the Geopark said.
"The island's geological identity has been pieced together over 150 million years, as periods of tectonic turbulence have raised the island from the ocean depths," it said.
"Traces of the island's subterranean past can be found in the limestone, which forms characteristic karstic structures. The geopark abounds in karstic geosites such as caves, sinkholes and cone karst, including the famous cone-shaped Chocolate Hills in the center of the geopark," it said.
The Danajon Double Barrier Reef, on Bohol's northern coast, "is the only one of its kind in Southeast Asia and one of just six documented double barrier reefs on Earth; it provides visitors with a chance to discover 6,000 years of coral growth," it said.
The reef consists of two sets of large offshore coral reefs which were formed by a combination of favorable tidal currents and coral growth on a submarine ridge in the area.
In a statement on Wednesday, Unesco's National Commission in the Philippines congratulated the provincial government of Bohol.
"The island province is home to 1.4 million inhabitants who have kept alive more than 400 years of rich history and cultural traditions in harmony with its unique geological treasures," the commission wrote. The Geopark thanked the members of the "technical working group, technical advisers, partners from the academe, schools, nongovernment organizations, national government agencies, local government units, tour agencies, local businesses, volunteers, and supporters who made this dream a reality." In a Facebook statement on Wednesday, the Bohol government said the Geopark was 10 years in the making.
"Bohol's journey as a Global Geopark started in 2013 when a group of researchers from the University of the Philippines School of Urban and Regional Planning conducted field works on potential Geoparks in the country and identified the Province's geological karst and limestone landforms as a prospect," it said.
It added that Bohol Gov. Aris Aumentado embraced the Global Geopark campaign as "an inclusive and multi-sectoral platform that can leverage Bohol's position as a living laboratory for arts, culture and heritage in the country, and in the region; one that represents Bohol's best and pride of place." "May this milestone inspire us more to collaborate for the sustainable development of our geopark and serve as an inspiration for other regions and provinces in the Philippines to follow suit," the Geopark wrote.
The other geoparks named in Unesco's list are in Brazil (two geoparks), Greece, Indonesia (4 geoparks), Iran (two geoparks), Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Thailand and the United Kingdom.