Gunung Kidul Officials Ramp Up Efforts in Geopark Bid

University students explore the cave through which the Kalisuci, a river dating back millions of years, flows in Gunung Kidul district, Yogyakarta. (JG Photo/Boy T. Harjanto)

University students explore the cave through which the Kalisuci, a river dating back millions of years, flows in Gunung Kidul district, Yogyakarta. (JG Photo/Boy T. Harjanto)

Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta. Officials in Yogyakarta’s Gunung Kidul district have proposed two areas in the Gunung Seribu mountain range to serve as geosite buffer zones, or regions of high ecological, geological and cultural importance, as part of efforts to get Gunung Seribu recognized as a global geopark.

Immawan Wahyudi, the deputy district chief, told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday that the Nglanggeran and Kalisuci areas were nominated as the geosite buffer zones because they were the “most exotic” of three sites in the running.

“After evaluating three karst sites, we concluded that the most exotic sites, Nglanggeran and Kalisuci, [should be] buffer sites, considering ecological factors, economic sustainability and societal role in conservation,” he said.

Mount Nglanggeran is prehistoric volcano located in the Patuk area of northern Gunung Kidul, formed by aged volcanic material, while Kalisuci, located in the Semanu area, is a prehistoric underground-river flowing through a cave.

Both are popular tourist destinations.

The nomination comes in response to a recommendation last month from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization that the district administration identify two core areas in order boost its bid to get the Gunung Seribu area win recognition as a global geopark.

Global geoparks, defined by Unesco as “a unified area with geological heritage of international significance,” are overseen by the Global Network of National Geoparks (GGN), supported by Unesco.

Indonesia already has a representative on the list in the form of the Batur Global Geopark, centering on the Mount Batur caldera in Bangli, Bali.

The Gunung Kidul administration has already identified 10 geosites as part of the proposed Gunung Seribu geopark, most of which feature the karst geology characteristic of mountainous regions.

These are the Pindul, Jomblang, Cokro and Jlamprong caves; Kalisuci; Sadeng valley; Bleberan falls; Nglanggeran caldera; Siung Beach; and the Sambipitu seabed.

In addition to the 10 geosites in Gunung Kidul, the proposed geopark also includes six geosites in Pacitan district and two in Wonogiri. These geosites were visited by a GGN team in 2012 for an assessment.

Immawan said the Gunung Seribu area’s geology and rarity was important for education, sustainable development and geotourism, and said that official recognition of this would contribute to conservation of the surrounding areas.

Yogyakarta-based geologist Sudrajat Selorudjito agreed that the area deserved to get world recognition to protect it from damage from illegal mining.

The GGN will decide on Gunung Seribu’s nomination next year. JG

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