Tanzania Ascends to Geopark Network Presidency: A Leap for Sub-Saharan Africa
Tanzania has recently accomplished an impressive feat by taking over the presidency of the Geo Park network. This now makes it the only Geo Park site in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority’s (NCAA) Joshua Mwankunda has succeeded Driss Achbal of Morocco in this key role. This handover is anticipated to elevate Tanzania’s global visibility as a Geo Park destination, potentially attracting a greater influx of tourists and researchers and expanding its scope in the arenas of tourism and conservation.
Existing Geoparks in Africa
At present, Africa houses two UNESCO Global Geoparks: the Ngorongoro-Lengai Geopark situated in Northern Tanzania, and the M’Goun Geopark based in Morocco. The Ngorongoro-Lengai Geopark incorporates the Ngorongoro, Karatu, and Monduli districts in the Arusha region, with the Serengeti National Park bordering it to the North and North-West, Lake Natron to the East, the Great Rift Valley to the South, and the Maswa Game Reserve to the West.
The region of Ngorongoro-Lengai Geopark is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, with many sites often intertwined with local traditional rituals. One prominent example is the Datoga graves, a revered pilgrimage site for the Datoga tribe. These graves are the resting place of a spiritual leader, Gitangda, and his son, who lost their lives over a century ago in a struggle to protect their land against the Maasai in Ngorongoro.
UNESCO Global Geoparks: A Holistic Approach
In 2015, the UNESCO Global Geoparks was ratified by the 195 Member States of UNESCO during the 38th General Conference of the Organisation. This new label underscores the significance of managing outstanding geological sites and landscapes in a holistic manner. As per the UN’s definition, Geo parks are unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a keen emphasis on protection, education, and sustainable development.
The primary goal of this designation is to raise awareness about critical societal issues, focusing particularly on geological hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. The emergence of Tanzania as the Geo Park network’s president brings these important goals to the forefront in Sub-Saharan Africa, marking a significant milestone in global conservation efforts.
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