to be launched this year
Project part of the Heland program
of the European Commission
The first geo-park in the country will be announced before the end of 2015, said Kamal Bou Assi, Project Manager of the Shouf Biosphere Reserve.
The geo-park is a unified area with geological heritage of international significance. Geoparks inform about the sustainable use and need for natural resources, whether they are mined, quarried or harnessed from the surrounding environment while at the same time promoting respect for the environment and the integrity of the landscape.
The project is part of the European Commission’s Heland Program, a framework project that aims to promote socio-economic sustainable development. The Heland program introduces innovative technological actions for Mediterranean tourism heritage and landscape protection clusters.
The geo-park will involve the Bkassine—Jezzine forest and the Shouf reserve, Bou Assi said. “The project kicked off in 2012 and the fieldwork will be finalized by December 2015. Extensive studies and statistics meticulously reviewed and highlighted the strengths of the area and defined the ways to benefit from ICT advancements to improve tourism, natural, and cultural sites, according to Bou Assi.
Experts from the Global Geoparks Network (GGN), a UNESCO subsidy, are reviewing what was achieved and will be sending their reports soon. “We will be listed among 111 similar parks in the world,” he said. Only Morocco, among Arab countries has a similar site.
Studies were conducted in both Shouf and Bkassine to explore the nature, the heritage, as well as the usage of technology. Research was led by the Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management of the Lebanese University and Al-Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve.
The program is worth over $1 million. It is co-funded by the European Commission though the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) program, which is the financing instrument of the new European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). ENPI aims at reinforcing cooperation between the European Union (EU) and partner countries located along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
The geo-park is supported by the Ministry of Tourism and falls under its ecotourism and sustainable tourism plan. The ministries of Culture and Environment also support the program.
Date Posted: Jul 31, 2015