TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo considered geoparks as not merely a conservation area. As a geological heritage, he said geoparks can be used as a space for education and community economic development through ecotourism.
Geoparks with their many potentials, he added, must be preserved. He also hoped for a balance between the economic values and the environmental sustainability of geoparks.
“We must protect and preserve biodiversity and natural wealth, instead of damaging and over-exploiting them," said the President during the National Geopark II Conference broadcasted virtually on the National Development Planning Agency’s (Bappenas) YouTube on Monday, November 22.
According to Jokowi, Indonesia is one of the countries with the most geoparks in the world as it sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire. They are Batur Geopark, Mount Sewu Geopark, Ciletuh Geopark, Rinjani Geopark, and Toba Caldera Geopark. Some of them are even recognized as UNESCO Global Geoparks Heritage sites.
The head of state further said the areas must be protected given their historical values. “There are heritage values as well as archaeological, historical, cultural values in them that can be passed on to future generations,” he said.
Geoparks also have the potential to boost tourist visits and are considered suitable for the post-COVID-19 tourism trend, which puts forward the concept of ecotourism and wellness tourism.
However, Jokowi said geopark tourism should be strengthened by stories and narratives about past eruptions and the journey of civilization to attract visitors. “The main key that determines the success of geoparks is better governance. Involve local tourism players and residents, generate innovative ideas, and make concrete breakthroughs,” he said.
FRANCISCA CHRISTY ROSANA