Satun Geopark in southern Thailand has become the country’s first Unesco Global Geopark.
The Geopark, known for its limestone mountain ranges, abundance of fossils and network of beautiful islands, was recognised for both its diverse geological and cultural heritage as well as efforts at the site to promote conservation, education and tourism best practices in a holistic manner.
The endorsement of this nomination was made during the 204th Session of Unesco’s executive board in Paris. This inscription was recommended by the Unesco Global Geoparks Council.
Satun Geopark covers four districts in Satun province – Thung Wa, Manang, La-Ngu and Amphoe Muang. As with all Unesco Global Geoparks, the Satun site has been granted the Unesco status for four years (20182021), after which a revalidation process will take place.
The board endorsed 13 geoparks, including another seven in Asia-Pacific – Cao Bang, Vietnam; Ciletuh-Palabuhanratu and Rinjani-Lombok, Indonesia; Guangwushan-Nuoshuihe and Huanggang Dabieshan, China; Izu Peninsula, Japan; and Mudeungsan Area, South Korea.
The other sites receiving the label this year were Beaujolais, France; Conca de Tremp-Montsec, Spain; Famenne-Ardenne, Belgium; Ngorongoro Lengai, Tanzania; and Perce, Canada.
The Unesco geoparks network covers 140 parks in 38 countries, including 58 in the Asia-Pacific region.
Satun Geopark boasts a diverse abundance of fossils from the Paleozoic Era, as well as diversified karst topography. There is evidence of a submerged landscape dating back more than 500 million years, a time when early organisms thrived, including trilobites, brachiopods, stromatolites, conodonts, graptolites, tentaculites and nautiloids.
It is also home to the largest cave in Thailand, Phu Pha Phet Cave.
Unesco Global Geoparks also celebrate humanity’s bonds to the land, and the Satun site is exemplary in this regard, being home to many ethnic groups with rich cultural traditions, such as the Maniq and Urak Lawoi.
Twenty million years separate the two rock groups that come into contact at the popular geological site of Khao To Ngai mountain: Cambrian sandstone from about 500 million years ago and Ordovician limestone from 480 million years ago.
A footbridge runs on the side of the mountain along the seafront, marking the fault boundary. The site is popular for wedding ceremonies, with couples enjoying a walk along a footbridge that marks the fault between the two rock groups – a symbolic way to mark a “love that spans time”.