KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is now the proud owner of a Unesco triple crown site, the third in the world to have such a distinction, following the declaration of the Kinabalu National Geopark as a Unesco Global Geopark.
Besides Sabah, the other places with three Unesco sites are Jeju Island in South Korea and Shennongjia, China.
“The Kinabalu Unesco Global Geopark, which covers an area of 4,750 sq km, is now officially a global geotourism destination,” said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor. “This adds significant value to Sabah’s existing ecotourism products.”
The decision was made by Unesco’s executive board in Paris on Wednesday.
Kinabalu Park’s two other Unesco “crowns” are the World Heritage Site (declared on Dec 2, 2000) and the Unesco Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve (declared on June 12, 2014).
Hajiji said the geopark was home to many endemic plants and animals, including 90 orchid species found only on Mount Kinabalu. This includes the crimson-headed partridge bird, which is not found anywhere else in the world.
He added that it would bring direct and indirect benefits to Sabah’s socio-economic system.
He said this would particularly benefit more than 290,000 local communities within the districts of Kota Belud, Kota Marudu and Ranau.
With the declaration of the Kinabalu National Geopark as a Unesco Global Geopark, there are now 195 geoparks in the world located in 48 countries.
The Unesco Global Geopark label recognises geological heritage of international significance.
Geoparks serve local communities by combining the conservation of their significant geological heritage with public outreach and a sustainable approach to development.
“This is a great achievement for the state government under its Sabah Maju Jaya development agenda initiatives through the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry and Sabah Parks,” said Hajiji.