Ly Son Island, the core area of the Ly Son-Sa Huynh Geopark project. Photo by VnExpress/Bui Thanh Trung.
Ly Son-Sa Huynh might not become Vietnam's fourth UNESCO-recognized global geopark after all since Quang Ngai Province authorities have become skeptical about its benefits.
After spending VND20 billion ($870,000) on surveys and research since 2015, Quang Ngai Province wants to end the project since the proposed geopark's socio-economic benefits are "unclear."
"After reviewing the project, the People's Committee thinks that the socio-economic efficiency of the geopark is not evident. It is not as if we have to implement this project at any cost," Dang Van Minh, Chairman of the Quang Ngai People's Committee, said Wednesday.
He added the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism would submit a proposal to the central province's Party Standing Committee to end the project.
In late 2019, an application was sent to UNESCO to recognize it as a global geopark, and it passed the preliminary round. A final vote was planned at the annual conference of the UNESCO General Assembly in late 2020 in South Korea, but the event was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The efforts began in 2015 when it was called the Binh Chau-Ly Son Global Geopark. Quang Ngai had just salvaged many ancient ships from around Ly Son Island, which is famous for its volcanic heritage and a long history of protecting the country's sovereignty.
Quang Ngai leaders in 2017 established the Ly Son - Sa Huynh Geopark management board under the oversight of the culture department, with an aim to seek UNESCO global geopark status to promote Quang Ngai's socio-economic development, especially tourism.
The board worked with the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources and international experts to conduct dozens of surveys and research into geomorphology, landscapes and geography to determine the value of the heritage. It held international conferences and seminars attended by hundreds of scientists.
In 2019 the board concluded that Ly Son Island and its neighboring areas on the mainland were too small for the park and urged the province to expand the area to 4,600 square kilometers.
According to UNESCO, global geoparks are areas with geology and geomorphology of international significance.
Vietnam has three UNESCO-recognized global geoparks, namely Dong Van in Ha Giang Province, Non Nuoc Cao Bang in Cao Bang Province, both in the north, and Dak Nong in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong.