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Conservation and sustainable promotion of the Geopark heritage value on the route "Experience traditional culture in a wonderland"

Since being recognized by UNESCO as a global geopark on April 12, 2018, Non Nuoc Cao Bang Geopark has been contributing to the conservation and effective promotion of outstanding heritage values for Cao Bang’s sustainable tourism development.

Thang Hen lake has a system of 36 interconnected underground lakes and the unique "turlough" phenomenon

There are three main experience routes to explore the geopark including the eastern route "Experience traditional cultures in a wonderland”, the northern route "Experience history and freedom", and the western route "Experience Phia Oac - the mountains of transformations". Of the three experience routes mentioned above, the eastern route which stretches across the districts of Quang Hoa, Trung Khanh and Ha Lang attracts the largest number of visitors. This experience route is characterized by a unique mature and old karst landscape such as the Thang Hen lake complex with a system of 36 interconnected underground lakes and the unique "turlough" phenomenon, Nguom Ngao cave which is known as the most beautiful cave in Vietnam, and Ban Gioc waterfall - the world's fourth largest border waterfall. Unique paleontological fossil sites, traces of ancient oceans and ancient continents are geological values of international scientific significance, demonstrating the movement of the Earth's crust for hundreds of millions of years.

Phja Thap incense village, Phuc Sen commune, Quang Hoa district

Coming to the Eastern route, beside enjoying impressive and spectacular landscapes, visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the spiritual life and cultural traditions of the locals through experiencing traditional craft villages such as Phuc Sen forging village, Khuoi Ky stone village, Phja Thap incense village, Dia Tren paper-making village. In addition, visitor have the chance to not only experience folk festivals such as Quang Uyen Fireworks Festival, Nang Hai Festival, and Long Tong Festival but also to enjoy traditional dishes with bold flavors of the mountains and forests of the local people such as roasted pig with Mac Mat leaves (special kind of flavor leaves of the local), fried bee pupae with sour bamboo shoots, xôi trám (Sticky rice with black canarium), etc.

In the process of building and developing Non Nuoc Cao Bang Geopark, the preservation and promotion of heritage values in the Geopark is always a top priority. Landscape protection in the geopark area is of particular interest to the Provincial People's Committee to meet the criteria of landscape, environment and UNESCO global geopark development criteria. On October 20, 2017, the Provincial People's Committee issued Directive No. 14/CT-UBND on strengthening the management and protection of geological heritage, cultural heritage, natural landscape and environment in Cao Bang province. Since 2018, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment has cooperated with the Center on Karst and Geoheritage of Vietnam Institute Geoscience and Mineral Resources to implement the project "Zipping the heritage and proposing a plan to preserve and promote the overall value of all types of heritage in the Geopark”; coordinated with relevant agencies and units to review the overall mineral mining in the province and advise on handling measures.

Training activities on Geoparks and developing plans for sustainable tourism development are held regularly.

Investment in infrastructure construction has also been paid attention and implemented synchronously at experience routes. The 14 main heritage sites of the Eastern route have been completed with facilities such as signs, explanation boards, and signage. In each district in the Geopark area, self-management teams have been established at heritage sites to carry out the task of receiving, managing and protecting the system of facilities at those heritage sites. This has been contributing to preserving traditional cultural values, indigenous knowledge, traditional craft villages and at the same time promoting outstanding heritage values of the Eastern route of Non Nuoc Cao Geopark to domestic and foreign tourists.

In addition, the propaganda and awareness raising for the community has also been implemented by relevant units. In the past time, the Geopark Management Board has organized contests such as "beautiful photos of Cao Bang", "Checkin Cao Bang", "Non Nuoc Cao Bang beauty", especially contests aimed at teenagers and students such as "Youth with Geopark Forum", "Searching for Ambassador of Non Nuoc Cao Bang Geopark". With various forms of propaganda and promotion, the image and heritage values of the Geopark have come closer to the community, from being unfamiliar with the concept of a Geopark to understanding the role of the community in the development, preservation, and promotion of the geopark’s heritage values.

It can be seen that the eastern route "Experience traditional cultures in a wonderland”, with outstanding values of traditional culture, indigenous knowledge, geomorphological landscape and cultural heritage, is being preserved and promoted effectively according to UNESCO's criteria and developed in the direction of sustainable tourism, contributing to improving the livelihoods of local people.