Indonesia has been “eyeing” the listing of Mount Rinjani as UNESCO Global Geopark since a few years now, ever since the naming of Rinjani as national geopark in 2013.
“If Rinjani is registered as a UNESCO-recognised world geopark, then there will be a new attraction in Lombok which is world class,” said Arief Yahya, Minister of Tourism RI, to CNNIndonesia. That means more international tourists. Rinjani attracted about 27.000 international tourists in 2015, from about 70.000 visitors in total.
However the 2016 assessment came with bad news: Rinjani was not approved as a Global Geopark by UNESCO just yet. Instead UNESCO gave the Indonesian officials a set of 10 recommendations to follow to be reconsidered again in 2 years.
10 Recommendations by UNESCO
- A full and comparative study is needed between applicant territory and Batur UNESCO Global Geopark to ascertain if there is a similar geological heritage.
- Develop a stronger collaboration with universities and research institutes to guarantee an efficient support from a scientific point of view.
- Improve the interpretation activity and design of interpretative panels to make some geosites more effective and well presented.
- Develop more educational programmes for local schools to increase their knowledge about the unique geological heritage and other aspects of heritage in Rinjani-Lombok Geopark and use local Geopark guides and interpreters to organise educational and training courses on a regular basis to increase and to qualify their skills.
- Visibility of the aspiring Geopark should be improved especially at Gili Trawangan, by better use of the Geopark logo and consistent Geopark branding throughout including the improvement of the Geopark website and emphasise the connection between geology and other aspects of heritage.
- A clear partnership strategy should be developed with partners to include a clear methodology on the criteria required to become a partner and a formal agreement with the Geopark. This is applicable to but not restricted to accommodation and catering providers, transport providers, activity providers and producers of local products.
- The Geopark has to strengthen the knowledge, conservation understanding of ethnic groups (e.g. the Sasak people) in relation to their culture, language and traditional practices.
- Plan a mid-term proposal to enlarge the boundaries of the Geopark to include the whole Lombok Island.
- Strengthen the networking with other UNESCO Global Geoparks at a national, regional, and global level, and actively contribute to international conferences and meetings on UNESCO Global Geoparks.
- Strengthen the role of women in senior management positions within the Geopark staff, in accordance with UNESCO principles.
Our opinion: build for a sustainable future
From a environmental conservation point of view, we strongly endorse the UNESCO recommendation #6. Mount Rinjani Geopark Management needs to provide stricter criteria on companies that operate in the tourism sector in the area, including tourism agencies, trekking companies, as well as individual guides and porters. Such criteria should include training and monitoring of guides on park conservation.
Additionally, as per recommendation #4, local communities should be trained and sensitised regarding the importance and problems of their local natural treasure. Tourism can bring prosperity, but can also hurt the local environment and well-being if not managed in a sustainable manner not just by professionals but also by the local community.
Last but not least, as per recommendation #7, the surge of tourists can hurt not only environmentally, but also culturally the local communities. The Sasak people around Rinjani should be well considered and protected through sustainable tourism practices.
At “Save Rinjani” we are hopeful for such recommendations to not only be implemented superficially for the sake of getting an UNESCO Global Geopark branding, but also in practice, making the entire Rinjani-Lombok area and community stronger.