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Jeju Weekly: The No. 3 key for Jeju’s green glory
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Jeju Weekly: The No. 3 key for Jeju’s green glory
Science, education, preservation a trifecta from island’s global Geopark certification
Saturday, October 16, 2010
▲ The Columnar-Jointed Lava stretches like a screen on the coast of Gaekkak, Saekkdal-dong, west of Seogwipo City. Photo by Sou Jea Chul
The number three has always had great resonance on Jeju Island, with its geography of bleak mountains, unproductive volcanic soil and windswept landscapes. But earlier this month, the number truly became the basis of local and national pride.
In addition to Jeju Island being designated by the UNESCO Natural Science Center to be a biosphere reserve in 2002 and enlisted as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site in 2007, it is now the only place on earth with a third such UNESCO-mandated environmental designation: Geopark status for nine sites as certified by the Global Geoparks Network.
The announcement was made by the GGN committee Oct. 4 (Oct. 3, KST) in Lesvos, Greece, making Jeju Island its 20th member and Korea’s only province with Geopark status. It should be noted that while most local media are attributing the certification to UNESCO directly, the GGN is a separate entity which is recognized by, and receives logistical assistance from, UNESCO’s Division of Earth Sciences.
The GGN received Jeju’s application in November 2009 and an inspection team with officials from Malaysia and Greece spent a week on the island earlier this summer. Certification entails the promotion of education and tourism in areas of scientific merit. These include areas of geological, archaeological, biological and cultural interest.
The nine certified sites are Mt. Halla, Seongsan Sunrise Peak, Manjang Cave, Seogwipo Formation, Mt. Sanbang, Dragon Head Rock Cliff, Suwol Peak, Cheonjiyeon Waterfalls and Daepo Columnar Joint.
Mt. Halla, Seongsan Sunrise Peak and Manjang Cave were also collectively included on the World Heritage list in 2007. Twenty-one other sites may be in the running for Geopark certification over the coming years.
▲ Mt. Sanbang. Photo courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Province
Following the announcement, Jeju’s Governor Woo Keun Min acknowledged the four years of intense preparation it took to meet the certification criteria of management planning, sustainable development strategies, geotourism and more.
“I think that Jeju Island’s Geopark certification isn’t the end, it’s just a new beginning,” Woo said in a statement to the press. “I hope islanders will continue to visit and support these sites.”
The scientific community here is also optimistic.
“The entire island is a natural history museum without a roof,” said geologist Dr. Ahn Ung San, of the Jeju Cultural Policy Division Geopark Task Force Team, in a telephone interview.
He said the increase in interest, funding and study will be “useful for education” and would “promote research on sites from now,” but cautioned that too much promotion could result in the opposite of the intended preservation of the sites.
Dr. Ahn pointed out that Jeju is already well known in the international scientific community “to be an excellent example of some of the best preserved volcanic formations.” Though a small island “every one of its oreum [parallel volcanic cones] have craters” — a geological feature that facilitates geoscientific study.
He said he expects even more interest and study in this area and with more local sites in the running for future certification as Geoparks, this will further promote research and study as the certification process requires.
Jeju Island’s Geopark status will, he added, increase the likelihood of more scientific conferences convening on the island, and the funding and academic interest that comes with these events.
Last week a representative from the Jeju Tourism Association told the online newspaper Media Jeju that the Geopark recognition will raise Jeju’s “brand value” and will play an important part in for the first time attracting 2 million tourists from abroad to the island.
Jeju’s Geopark status will be reviewed by the GGN twice — every four years until 2018.
1. Mt. Halla
1,950 meters high. Tallest mountain in Korea. Bakrok-dam, its crater lake, is 108 meters deep and 550 meters wide. Ecosystem for various species of plants and animals. A World Natural Heritage site.
2. Manjang Cave
7,400 meters long, 40 meters high and 23 meters wide. Formed from the Geumun Oreum, a World Natural Heritage site. A section of the cave has a multi-layer structure which divides itself into a upper-layer and a lower-layer cave. There are three main entrances of which only two are open to the public and extend about 1 kilometer underground.
3. Seongsan Sunrise Peak
179 meters high. Product of interaction between seawater and submarine volcanic activity. Volcanic layers exposed erosion caused by wind and waves. A World Natural Heritage site.
4. Seogwipo Formation
1.5 kilometers long, 100 meter-thick sedimentary layer formed between 1.8 million years ago to 400,000 years ago by basic volcano activity layering it with volcanic ejecta and marine sediments.
5. Cheonjiyeon Waterfalls - 22 meters tall and 12 meters wide. Carved a 20 meter-deep waterhole. Home to the Mootae Eel, a Korean Natural Monument No. 258, and also the Dampalsu trees, Natural Monument No. 163. The area is a prototypical Korean evergreen forest.
6. Daepo Columnar Joint - 2 kilometers long from Daepo-dong to Jungmun-dong in Seogwipo City. Formed between 250,000 years ago to 140,000 years ago, when the adjacent Oreum “Nokhajiak” erupted with lava that had flowed into and solidified at the coast. Hexagonally shaped, similar to a beehive structure.
7. Mt. Sanbang - 395 meters tall. Formed 800,000 years ago. Bell-shaped, it is a lava dome that was formed by lava compiling near a volcanic crater due to high viscosity. Its cave has been designated one of Jeju’s 10 sights for its spectacular view of Yongmeori Haean (Dragon’s Head Coast), Hyungje Island, and Gapa Island.
8. Dragon Head Rock Cliff
The coastline of Mt. Sanbang. It is part of a Tuff Ring caused by basic volcanic activities and characterized by noticeably different volcanic layers of ash from several volcanic craters that have flowed in different directions and layers. A popular tourist attraction for its scenic view.
9. Suwol Peak
77 meters high. Formed 18,000 years ago. Part of a Tuff Ring that was formed by subterranean magma reacting with subterranean water, exploding and compiling volcanic material. A very well known site for volcanology both locally and internationally.