Banyuwangi Regency Declared National Geopark Area
Banyuwangi Regency in East Java has been declared a taman bumi (earth park), or national geological park (Geopark), by the National Geopark Community. A certificate on the status of the regency was presented in Bogor on Friday.
Banyuwangi Regent Abdullah Azwar Anas said the declaration encouraged the regency to optimize nature-based tourism, kompas.com reported.
“The geopark status [for Banyuwangi] will complement the Ijen Blue Fire and the Alas Purwo National Park that have been declared biosphere reserves under the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. It also strengthens Banyuwangi’s position for ecotourism,” said Anas.
The regent said he was also aiming for Banyuwangi to be listed as a UNESCO Global Geopark following an evaluation next year. “We will soon follow up on the committee’s recommendations,” Anas went on to say.
Banyuwangi is proposing three sites as Geoparks, namely Blue Fire at Mount Ijen, Pulau Merah (Red Island) and the Alas Purwo National Park. The former is among the most prominent blue flame phenomena and most acidic craters in the world.
Meanwhile, Red Island and the cave complex of the Alas Purwo National Park are listed as areas of high mineralization, as the former is a residual from magma circulating under an ancient volcano.
The discovery of stones at Red Island makes for an ideal geology laboratory to study the alteration and mineralization of copper gold. Moreover, geological traces at the Istana cave in the Alas Purwo National Park reveal that the area was once a shallow sea that transformed into the land.
The Banyuwangi geopark also features diverse biodiversity and cultural diversity. Fourteen flora and 27 fauna species, including six mammals, are found in the Ijen area, while the Alas Purwo National Park is home to 700 plants, 50 mammals, 320 birds, 48 reptiles and 15 amphibious species.
“With all the particularities of geology, flora, fauna and cultural heritage that we [Banyuwangi] possess, we have promoted ecotourism as the base of developing tourism from the outset,” Anas was quoted as saying.
Indonesia now has four UNESCO global Geoparks and 15 national Geoparks. All these Geoparks contribute some 35 percent to total ecotourism revenue in Indonesia.