The Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) has lent Arusha National Park’s (ANAPA) GeoPark envisioned status an extra push after the conservation agency met communities living next to the wildlife-rich park.
The meeting entailed at sensitizing the 12 villages bordering the park on the opportunities that they’ll reap once the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) endorses ANAPA as the latest GeoPark site in the country.
Speaking here on Tuesday evening, an Assistant Commissioner for Conservation at Arusha National Park Albert Mziray, observed that the villages located on the foothills of Mt Meru’s were endowed with numerous geological features that will grant the park a GeoPark status in the near future.
According to Mr Mziray, it was also imperative to sensitize the communities on the opportunities that they stand to tap from once ANAPA earns that status.
“UNESCO Global Geoparks are fundamentally about people and about exploring and celebrating the links between our communities and the Earth,” opined the Conservation Commissioner.
Mr Mziray singled out beautiful landscapes, waterfalls and rich culture among the Meru and Maasai communities who co-exist on the slopes of Mt Meru, as some of the sites and criteria which will convince UNESCO to designate ANAPA as a Geopark area.
“Before sending UNSECO our recommendations it is always important to engage the communities that surround the park on what Geopark concept entails,” he explained.
The Mt Meru Natural System is poised to attract more tourists and visitors to the area, thanks to its rich geological features, according to the Conservator.
Godwell Ole Meing'ataki, TANAPA's assistant conservation commissioner in charge of Conservation Science and Community Relations urged the communities to fully embrace the new tourism concept in realizing the country's target of five million tourists by 2025.
He said: This is a massive opportunity for our country and it will definitely complement Wildlife tourism if the envisioned target is anything to go by.
On 17 November 2015, the 195 Member States of UNESCO ratified the creation of a new label, the UNESCO Global Geoparks, during the 38th General Conference of the Organisation.
The UN agency defines Geo parks as single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.
It applies the heritage status in raising awareness on key issues facing the society, in the context of the dynamic earth planet, where geological hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis are concerned.
At present, there are 147 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 43 countries with Morocco and Tanzania being homes to the Geodiversities.
The Ngorongoro Lengai UNESCO Global Geopark is located in Northern Tanzania.
It encompasses the districts of Ngorongoro, Karatu, and Monduli in Arusha.