The 3th Geopark Committee Meeting of Republic of Korea was held at a conference room on March 28th, 2013. The meeting went smoothly with government and civilian members. The items mainly discussed at the meeting were as follows: report of 2013 Geopark Week observation, report and evaluation of qualification action plans for National Geopark certification, and complementary measures for Gangwon Peace Zone.
Report of 2013 Geopark Week observation
Various opinions were presented, with some suggesting publishing a series of articles written by experts through media outlet and participating in Geological heritage expert training; and others proposing consistent public relation for National Geopark; web-based publicity, such as building a web page and a logo application system; and education programs tailored for Geopark guides. Most agreed that we need regular promotion programs for National Geopark, and a varied classification of domestic geographical attractions.
Report and Evaluation of Qualification Action Plans for National Geopark Certification
Some suggested that we need to spur geo-tourism by providing intensive education programs to Geopark guides and by building infrastructure for geo-tourism. Others suggested designating geographical attractions as a place of scenic beauty or a natural monument as a way to add national value to them. We will work hard to contribute to the success of the general assembly of Jeju APGN (Asia Pacific Geoparks Network), which will be held in September.
Complementary measures for Gangwon Peace Zone
Considering that Chulwon and Gosung have similar geological features to those of Gyeonggi-do and East coast respectively, it is better to classify geopark sites by geological features, not by administrative district.
Some suggested that it is also needed to standardize terms, such as eco-tourism, Eco tour and geo-tourism, and to designate one specific travel agency that will take on development and operation of all tourism programs rather than to divide tourism into several categories.
Besides this meeting, there have been many significant events,.
After the introduction of National Geopark Certification in 2012, the Ministry of Environment of Korea certified two sites, including Jeju-do, as a national geopark for the first time on December 27th in the same year. Those designated national geoparks are significant not only as an excellent geological heritage, but also as a site with high potential for the compatibility of conservation and utilization.
The Ministry also established national geopark system under natural park act in order to better conserve our geological heritages enriched by various rock layers, and to develop local economy by connecting education with tourism. The Ministry established National Geopark Secretariat within the Korea National Park Service as well in order for the systematic execution of geoparks-related tasks, such as investigating on geological heritages and geopark candidate sites, supporting works for new certification and follow-up management, and international cooperation.
Recently, the Ministry has observed Geopark Week from 18 to 22 February, aiming to raise and improve public awareness about geoparks. During the Week, former Minister of Environment Yeong-Suk Yoo conferred national geopark certificates and certification plates at the presentation ceremony, which was held on 20 February in Seoul. Now, Korea has two certified national geoparks and the Ministry of Environment plans to further expand these certifications.