By Annette Chrysostomou
The Troodos Geopark has joined the UNESCO global network, the government announced on Tuesday.
The decision was made during the closing ceremony of the works of the 4th Conference of Geoparks Network Asia-Pacific, in Japan, according to the government announcement.
“The integration of the Troodos Geopark into the global network of UNESCO geoparks is a great success,” it said, adding that it would boost the Troodos area, including 110 villages, “thus highlighting the uniqueness and importance of the region”.
Four years in the making, and inaugurated just months ago, the Troodos Geopark is located in the centre of the island and its area is approximately 137,000 hectares covering 45 per cent of the total area of the Troodos range and 15 per cent of the total area of Cyprus.
The area falls within three districts, Nicosia, Paphos and Limassol, and includes 110 communities with a total population of 25,000.
Officially opened by President Nicos Anastasiades the Troodos Geopark Visitors’ Centre is a small but modern museum that features geological exhibits from Troodos, as well as presentations of the island’s history.
The effort to create a geopark at Troodos began under the cross-border cooperation programme Greece-Cyprus “Geotopes” and the programme “LEADER”, with the collaboration of the department of geological survey, the department of forestry and the Troodos development agency. The project is co-funded by the European Union by 80 per cent with the remaining 20 per cent covered by Greece and Cyprus.
The wooded peak of Troodos comprises the deepest layer of a section of oceanic crust, or an ophiolite complex that was formed 90 million years ago, 8,000 metres below sea level.
The formation has made Cyprus “a geological model for researchers from around the world, contributing to a better understanding of the development of the oceans and of the planet in general,” according to the centre’s website.
Geoparks are designed to protect geotopes of global importance, and for geo-tourism development. They promote awareness of geological hazards, including volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis and many help prepare disaster mitigation strategies among local communities. They hold records of past climate change and are educators on current climate change, as well as adopting a best practice approach to utilising renewable energy and employing best practices for green tourism.
“The decision to join the Global Geopark Network is part of planning for development of the broader Troodos range on the basis of a programme which aims at green growth,” the announcement said.
“The combination of ecological and cultural elements, along with the development of alternative forms of tourism, is expected to create new jobs, and help achieve economic development.”