0529 GMT January 16, 2021
Iran is full of fascinating and valuable geological phenomena, said the director of the Presidential Office’s Scientific and Technological Department Plan for Developing Innovations and Technologies of Geology, Mining and Mineral Industries.
Kambiz Mehdizadeh told Iran Daily that proper usage of the country’s geological and geotourism capacities would help government officials manage the country without dependence on oil.
He added that so far, little attention has been paid to the issue of geotourism, while Iran is the paradise of the world’s geologists, and there are many capabilities in this area throughout the country.
He said although some measures have been carried out by various organizations in this respect, further cooperation between the Geological Survey and Mineral Explorations of Iran (GSI), the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism, and the Environmental Protection Organization is required for optimal use of domestic geotourism and geological potentials.
On the definitions of geosite and geopark, Mehdizadeh said that geosite is a place that has rare phenomena with outstanding scientific or aesthetic values which can be visited by the public.
He added that according to UNESCO, geopark is an area with overt and covert boundaries, in which several rare and prominent geological phenomena are located and scientific, natural, historical and tourism issues are taken into consideration.
On the history of geoparks in the world, he said the move to create geoparks was launched in 2004 with the support of UNESCO, adding in the first phase, 17 geoparks were created in Europe and eight in China.
“According to the figure released by Global Geoparks Network (GGN), 161 geoparks have been established in 44 countries by 2020, of which Iran’s share has been one so far. This is while any part of our country has the potential to become a geopark,” he said.
Mehdizadeh pointed out that Qeshm Island Geopark, in Hormuzgan Province, is the first Iranian geopark which has been registered globally
Referring to the geological attractions of Qeshm Island and its amazing natural phenomena, he said that there are areas on the island that have edible soil.
He noted that this soil, known locally as “golak,” is used in pickles, jams, and some other foods, as well as hygienic and cosmetic products.
Pointing out that the soil of Hormuz Island is the most expensive soil in the world, he said, however, its exploitation has been stopped due to environmental concerns.
The officials referred to the need for creating new geoparks in Iran and said that in recent years, efforts have been made to establish a geopark in the Aras region, in East Azarbaijan Province.
He said the geopark was supposed to be registered by the end of 2020, but it was delayed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country.
Mehdizadeh added that due to the importance of geological issues in the country and with regard to the emphasis made by Vice President for Science and Technology Affairs Sorena Sattari on the subject, a plan on the development of mining geology was launched a year ago.
On the establishment of technological and innovation centers in the field of mining in the country, he said the first such center will soon start operating in the near future.
He said that more centers will be created with the aim of developing innovations in the fields of mining and related industries and supporting knowledge-based companies and start-up businesses with maximum use of the capacities and capabilities available in the country.
“The measure will help pave the ground for the arrival of new technologies to the sector and facilitate cooperation between the industrial and academic centers,” he concluded.