Experts value Viñales as a possible World Geopark

Cuban scientists seek to preserve giant saurian fossil

HAVANA, Feb 27th.  Experts from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) positively valued Viñales, in the province of Pinar del Río,

as a possible World Geopark of that international organization.

Carlos Ernesto Merizalde, World Geoparks expert and representative of the Imbabura Geopark, in Ecuador, praised the geological heritage of the territory, with an exceptional karst landscape and geological sites that constitute landmarks at a national and international level.

In addition, it is related to the natural heritage – endowed with extensive biodiversity, with endemic species – and cultural heritage of the area, so it can opt for that condition, he assured the Cuban News Agency.

Helga Chulepín, geologist and member of the UNESCO World Geoparks Council, highlighted that after the established protocol, and if approved, Viñales could become the first World Geopark in the Caribbean region.

For 10 days, both experts remained in that territory, as part of a scholarship from the World Geoparks Network for technical advice in the race to be included in the list of World Geoparks; although they already have a long way to go in that sense, said Chulepín.

Currently, there are 195 World Geoparks in 48 nations, 13 of them located in Latin America.

UNESCO World Geoparks are known as the 21st-century territories where local communities, together with authorities at the local and national levels, manage their areas based on education, conservation and sustainable development through tourism and generation. local products, the expert said.

In 2021, by agreement of the Council of Ministers, the Viñales region – which includes the Viñales National Park and the area declared World Heritage of Humanity – was approved as the first National Geopark of Cuba, as it is a single and unified geographical area. in which sites and landscapes of geological importance are managed through a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.

Doctor in Technical Sciences Enrique Castellanos Abella, director of Geology of the Ministry of Energy and Mines and vice president of the National Committee of Geoparks, added that in Viñales there is the largest cave system in Cuba, the karst formations of mogotes and the limit between the Cretaceous and the Paleogene where more than 90 percent of the planet’s species became extinct, including dinosaurs.

And the geological record of that historical moment in the evolution of the planet is here, he pointed out.

Likewise, it occupies an area of about 284 square kilometers and has 47 sites that testify to the geological richness of that National Geopark, he said.

It has infrastructure for tourist use, which greatly facilitates the creation of Geoparks; and practically meets all UNESCO indicators, he noted.

However, he indicated, that we must continue working on issues such as the visibility of its geological values.

According to UNESCO, Geoparks influence the improvement of awareness and understanding of key issues facing society, such as the sustainable use of natural resources, mitigation of the effects of climate change and risk reduction related to natural hazards.