"I am optimistic that the Meratus Geopark would become a UNESCO Global Geopark," Awang Harun Satyana, an independent geologist, noted during a webinar on the Meratus Geopark here on Tuesday.
The South Kalimantan government has submitted a proposal for the Meratus Geopark to gain the UGG status. The UN body will conduct the evaluation in 2022.
Meratus Mountains had already gained the national geopark status in 2018.
"Meratus is a remarkable geological heritage," Satyana noted.
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The mountains, spanning some 600 kilometers in South Kalimantan to the north of Central and East Kalimantan, were created from ocean subduction, continental collision, and old volcanism.
"This is a complex process not found in other geoparks," he pointed out.
According to Satyana, a geopark should also have benefits in terms of conservation, research, education, geotourism, and creative economy.
"Economic activities are recommended within the area, in accordance with the regulation, for sustainable development. This is aimed at encouraging the local people to participate in its conservation," he stated.
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Hence, the government will need to disseminate information in order to obtain public support.
It also has to improve the quality of geosites as well as its public facilities, such as road access, transportation, sanitation, gateways, and other facilities.
Head of the Provincial Development Planning Board (Bappeda) of South Kalimantan Nurul Fajar Desira stated that UNESCO's recognition as a global geopark for Meratus would be a blessing for South Kalimantan.
With its status as UGG, Meratus will be placed under the global spotlight, and thus, its forest will be protected, and the locals would be able to derive economic benefits.
In addition, students can use it as education material, he stated.
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"Our final goal in developing Meratus is for our children's future. Meratus is the future for the supply of oxygen, raw water, and natural disaster mitigation," he noted.
The 200-million-year-old Meratus Mountains have a complex geological history.
Fajar noted that South Kalimantan had 74 potential geosites located in nine districts and cities, including Tabalong, Balangan, Central and South Hulu Sungai, Tapin, Banjar, and Kotabaru.
The government has made various efforts to gain UGG status by improving public facilities at the geosites and raising awareness in schools and communities, among others.
It also builds networks with other national and global geoparks, Fajar stated.
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