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3:57 pm on 21 September 2022, Wednesday
Romeo Braceros, Jr.
Bohol, with its world-famous Chocolate Hills, is one of seven considered geoparks recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's Global Geoparks Council (UNESCO).
The other six are from Indonesia: Ijen, Maros Pangkep, Iran, Waitaki Whitestone, New Zealand, Kinabalu, Malaysia, and Khorat, Thailand. According to the Council, these sites are being reevaluated and revalidated.
When asked about it, Gov. Aris Aumentado replied that Bohol is proud and that the Chocolate Hills contribute significantly to the province's tourism.
He went on to say that Chocolate Hills could be a catalyst for further come-ons to be discovered in the province.
"The Council evaluated revalidation and extension proposals filed in 2019, 2020, and 2021 due to delays in the evaluation procedure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," the Council stated.
The Council said that the selection of seven (7) geopark nominations, including Bohol, and its recommendation to its executive board for approval during the 2023 spring session resulted from a thorough examination in the presence of 73 observers and representatives from more than 20 member-states.
"By Sections 2.10 and 5.5 of the Operational Guidelines for UNESCO Global Geoparks, the Council shall deliver to the UNESCO Global Geoparks Bureau a report on its activity and decisions."
The report will subsequently be distributed to UNESCO members and the Associate Member States. If the UNESCO Executive Board approves the Council's decision during its spring 2023 session, the number of sites in the Global UNESCO Geoparks Network will increase from 177 to 184 across 48 countries, with New Zealand and the Philippines joining as new members."
According to UNESCO, "global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where international geologically significant monuments and landscapes are administered with a holistic concept of protection, education, and sustainable development." They take a bottom-up strategy, integrating conservation and sustainable development while engaging local populations."
On September 4 and 5, 2022, the Council met in Satun, Thailand, and online to evaluate nine new proposals and 28 revalidations from current UNESCO Global Geoparks, all of which were submitted between 2019 and 2022.
The Chocolate Hills are protected by the extended National Integrated Protected Areas System Act (Republic Act No. 11038 of 2018, signed by then-President Rodrigo Roa Duterte).
Under the ordinance, the Chocolate Hills is one of 94 protected places, including the Panglao Island Protected Seascape in Bohol.
It is estimated that there are 1,776 hills under the territorial jurisdiction of the towns of Carmen, Batuan, and Sagbayan.