UNESCO Geoparks

The establishment of a Geopark aims to bring sustainability and real economic benefit to the local populations, usually through the development of sustainable tourism and other economic and cultural activities
The establishment of a Geopark aims to bring sustainability and real economic benefit to the local populations, usually through the development of sustainable tourism and other economic and cultural activities

The Bureau of the Global Geopark Network, meeting from 16 to 18 September in Norway’s Gea Norwegica Geopark on the occasion of the 10th European Geoparks Conference, will examine applications from 16 sites wishing to join the Global Network.

The candidates include: Carnic Alps (Austria), Bodoquena-Pantanal (Brazil), Quadrilatero Ferrifero (Brazil), Hong Kong park (China), Tianzhushan (China), the parks of Bauges (France), Chablais park (France), Katla (Iceland), Batur (Indonesia), Pacitan (Indonesia), Aras (Iran), Burren and Cliffs of Moher (Ireland), Alpi Apuane (Italy), Muroto (Japan), Sierra Norte di Sevilla Geopark (Spain), Villuercas Ibores Jara (Spain).

Further information is available on UNESCO’s Geopark webpage.

UNESCO awards joint German-Oman project

Günter Weigel (LTM), Dr. Roland Bernecker (UNESCO), Henning Schwarze (WHS), H.E. Mohammed Al Tobi (MoT), Dirk Watermann (Nature Park), Friedel Heuwinkel (Landrat Lippe District) and Ulrich Köster (VDN) during the award ceremony in Bonn

GPS-Adventure Parks, a joint project of German and Oman organizations has been awarded by UNESCO as an official project of „The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014)“. On Friday the 14th of January the World Habitat Society, the Oman Ministry of Tourism, and the German Nature Park Teutoburger Wald / Eggegebirge did receive the official distinction by the Secretary-General of the German Commission for UNESCO in Bonn.

GPS-Adventure Parks is a novel concept which provides sustainable tourism and educational information, using latest technologies with support of Geographical Positioning Systems, handheld computers and cell phones, offering multimedia location-based services. Being implemented in Germany two years ago and currently under development on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism in the Muscat region, the concept is part of a joint venture between Oman and Germany, focusing on “Tourism & Education for Sustainable Development”.

GPS-Adventure Parks is one of the few worldwide projects implementing the goals of the UN decade “Education for Sustainable Development” in an exemplary way. The international understanding character of the project, the transcultural cooperation between the Sultanate of Oman and Germany and their joint efforts towards sustainable development are the basis of this successful project, Secretary General of the German Commission for UNESCO, Dr. Roland Bernecker explains. He appreciates the continuous active participation of the international team.

H.E. Mohammed Al Tobi, Tourism Undersecretary, received the award as the representative of the Sultanate of Oman in Bonn. Projects like these are seen as bridges between nations, as a project of understanding among nations, he said during the award ceremony. A lot of things can be said and written, but it is essential to explain the idea of sustainability to our children, otherwise all awards and cooperation will only stay ink on a paper, Al Tobi emphasizes.

Mr. Friedel Heuwinkel, Head of the Nature Park Teutoburger Wald / Eggegebirge said that the GPS-Adventure Park in his region already managed to involve and motivate young citizens and tourists to get more familiar with nature and sustainable development. The long distance between Lippe and Oman also shows that projects on sustainability can be cross-border without any problem and will lead to a transcultural exchange.

Henning Schwarze, Managing Director of World Habitat Society, claims that the concept behind the GPS-Adventure Park has now been approved by receiving this international recognized award. „The multimedia location-based information lead to a better understanding of nature“, Schwarze says.

All three partners, the Sultanate of Oman, the Nature Park Teutoburger Wald / Eggegbirge and the World Habitat Society take a stand for international convergence and projects on sustainable development. The activity is part of a memorandum of understanding, which has been signed between the Oman and German partners in the international year for the rapprochements of cultures. Future activities of the cooperation will include the twining of attractions, student exchanges, joint exhibitions and research activities in the field of good tourism and education.

„Education for sustainable development aims to help people to develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge to make informed decisions for the benefit of themselves and others, now and in the future, and to act upon these decisions“, UNESCO explains.

The Nature Park Region and Oman aim for close cooperation

Founding members of the network after the signing-ceremony: Jaafar Al Tobi, Friedel Heuwinkel, Günter Weigel, H.E. Mohammed Al Tobi, Dirk Watermann, Amur Al Toobi, Henning Schwarze, Anwar Al Tobi, Khalid Al Tobi.

Existing contacts between the Natural Park Region and the Sultanate of Oman will be further developed. The initiator of the cooperation, Mr. Henning Schwarze, of the World Habitat Society (WHS), is confident that bilateral ties between Oman and Germany will be intensified. This can be highly beneficial for the partners in the Teutoburg Forest as well as the partners in the Arabian Peninsula. The WHS works in Oman since several years on diverse projects, such as, for example, the establishment of a GPS-adventure-park. This has already been realised as a pilot project in the Nature Park Teutoburg Forest. UNESCO lauded this project as an example of sustainable environmental education. This new initiative, to intensify the cooperation, was greeted in Ost-Westfalen-Lippe District, in the background of the United Nations Year of Rapprochement of Cultures.

Friedel Heuwinkel, Chairman of the Natural Park and Chief District Administrator is optimistic towards new connections with the Arab Region: “The Omanis are highly interested in our region, and they like our people and our landscapes. I do believe that diverse cooperations between the Sultanate and our region will develop. The establishment of a network of different kinds of cooperation will be a good platform for the beginning of long-term cooperations.“

The Omani Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, His Excellency Mohammed Al Tobi, is also convinced: “We have already good and diverse contacts in the Natural Park region. These contacts are developing very well. This has begun by Omani student placements in the field of tourism and hospitality in partnership with WHS. We would be very happy if these beneficial contacts between our people will continuously develop and strengthen. I am pleased that we have jointly done these first important steps“.

Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, the District Lippe, the Nature Park, as well as the Lippe Tourismus & Marketing AG, Gulf Island Jewels Tours and WHS are network partners and they have now signed a joint Letter-Of-Agreement on “Tourism and education for sustainable development“. A students exchange program, transfer of science-based knowledge, and multiple activities on inter-cultural cooperation are the objectives of this network, with a special view to Germany and Oman. The project is endorsed by UNESCO and it is an official part of the UN Year of Rapprochement of Cultures.

Another important step into the same direction is an exhibition “Annäherung  – Das Sultanat Oman“ with photographs of the Omani photographic artist Amur Al Toobi. The exhibition displays objects illustrating natural, cultural and human elements in the Arabian Peninsula. The exhibition is open until 6th of August at the premises of the Volksbank Schlangen and continuous on 9th of August in the County Hall.