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UNESCO names 18 new sites to UNESCO Global Geoparks Network

UNESCO names 18 new sites to UNESCO Global Geoparks Network

Mekong region of South-East Asia represented by Thailand’s latest addition in Khorat 

UNESCO’s Executive Board has endorsed the addition of 18 sites to the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network (GGN). This brings the total number of UNESCO Geoparks to 195 in 48 countries. Two UNESCO Member States have newly joined the Network in 2023: New Zealand and the Philippines.

The UNESCO Global Geopark designation was created in 2015 to recognize 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, including ecologically conscious geo-tourism.

The 18 new designations, 10 of which are located in Asia-Pacific – Indonesia (3), Iran (2), Japan (1), Malaysia (1), Philippines (1), Republic of Korea (1), and Thailand (1) – have brought the network up to 195 UNESCO Global Geoparks.

Thailand: Khorat UNESCO Global Geopark

With this year’s addition of the Khorat UNESCO Global Geopark to the GGN, Thailand now numbers two official UNESCO Geoparks, its first located in the Satun province of southern Thailand, an area rich in Palaeozoic fossils, which joined the GGN roster in 2018.

The Khorat UNESCO Global Geopark, by contrast to Satun, is located in northeast Thailand in the Lam Takhong river basin, on the southwestern margin of the Khorat Plateau in Nakhon Ratchasima Province. Deciduous dipterocarp forests are dominant in the area, and the unique geological feature of the region is its abundance of diverse fossils ranging in age from 16 million to 10,000 years. A large range of dinosaur and other animal fossils, such as those of ancient elephants, have been found in Mueang District. Petrified wood has also been discovered in sand and gravel deposits in the Chaloem Phra Kiat and Mueang districts of Nakhon Ratchasima Province.

This geo-heritage has prompted Khorat UNESCO Global Geopark to consider itself the 'Paleontopolis' (City of Ancient Life) of the world. The unique culture of the area is called the Khorat Thai, after an ancient ethnic group with a unique language and tradition of music. Khorat has also been internationally recognized in the scientific names of new vertebrate fossil species discovered in the new Geopark, such as the crocodile Khoratosuchus jintasakuli, and the dinosaur Sirindhorna khoratensis.

For more information, visit https://www.unesco.org/en/articles/unesco-names-18-new-global-geoparks

For media queries: Public Information and Outreach (PIO) Team, UNESCO Multisectoral Regional Office in Bangkok, pio.bangkok(at)unesco.org.