Community Participation
By admin | 8-6-2019 13:58

Sustainable development and partnerships

1. Sustainable development policy

1) The performance of Khorat Geopark in sustainable local development has led to concrete policies. After the proposed geopark area was declared as a national geopark, Nakhon Ratchasima Province implemented a 5-year development plan (2018-2022). A mission statement was released by Nakhon Ratchasima Province stating that "Management of natural resources and the environment is to be completely sustainable according to the sufficient economy guidelines while upgrading the Khorat Geopark to a UNESCO Global Geopark", providing a clearer pathway to obtain budget support for the driving of the Khorat Geopark to the global level. The tourism and sports development plan in Nakhon Ratchasima has set the vision of the plan for Khorat to be designated as a city known by its Geopark, Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE), as well as traditional art and culture.

2) In accordance with the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2017-2021), an environmentally friendly growth strategy for sustainable development has been implemented throughout the Khorat Geopark. Conservation, sustainability, and fair use guidelines are highlighted in the strategic plan and follow existing management guidelines for UNESCO Global Geoparks. Throughout the geopark districts, tourist routes have been developed by the community. Currently, the objective is to ensure routes have several available activities and markets for local goods and services. Communities have jointly established district-wide geopark committees and various community enterprises to promote strong and sustainable operations and tours within the Geopark area. Cultural, natural, and geological heritage preservation is a key component in the educational programs of religious sites (temples), district schools, and community outreach programs; additional efforts are being made to incorporate these preservation-oriented programs in other schools throughout the Khorat Geopark.

2. Geopark partners

2.1 Partnership Criteria

Khorat Geopark Park Network Committee is driven under the cooperation of a variety of partners and community representatives. On 30th March 2018 the Network Committee meeting selected accommodations, restaurants, and activity centers along tourist routes to be Khorat Geopark’s formal partners using criteria as follows: 
1) The partners must have business undertaking in The Khorat Geopark and have never been involved in any illegal issues, 2) the partners must have an efficient management system and be environment-friendly, 3) the partners must sign an MOU with the geopark and actually perform their promise, 4) the partner must maintain superior product and service quality standards following the Department of Tourism and/or Department of Health for restaurants, cafeterias or vendors, 5) the partners must submit the request to use the geopark brand to a district or provincial committee after becoming formal partners. Current Khorat Geopark partners are listed in national, regional, and local networking (E. 8.2). At the regional level,
partnerships extend to academic institutions, such as Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University, and Northeastern Research Institute of Petrified Wood
& Mineral Resources.

2.2 Branding Policy

To use the Khorat Geopark brand, the partners must 1) obtain permission from Khorat Geopark and/or sign an MOU with the geopark, 2) have efficient management system and agree to developing awareness on geology, nature, cultures, history, and environment in Khorat Geopark, 3) have a story related to geopark, 4) have the products and/or services obtain approval from the related organizations or accomplish customer's esteemed needs. Upon any complaint received regarding branding from the customers, a meeting would be called for discussing the matter with the partners. The geopark committee will discuss and decide on its jurisdiction to deal with the case. The Khorat Geopark brand has been established for three years. The brand products, e.g., T-shirt bags, have been available for around two years. The promotion of the geopark is supplemented by the design and development of community-specific products, such as stegodon puppets, foot massage stone mats from Tha Chang, sediment soap, laser-etched coasters, and 10 different elephant coins (representing the 10 proboscideans discovered in the geopark area).

2.3 Partnership Promotion

Khorat Geopark partners are encouraged to participate in promotional events like conferences and other similar gatherings in order to report on any new products, services, and developments within their designated function of the geopark. The Khorat Fossil Festival (2017 and 2019) was held with the purpose of gathering local school students, teachers, geologists, paleontologists, Khorat Geopark partners, and the general public to promote the geosites, products, businesses, geological assets, and scientific research in the geopark. The exhibitions are also set up during various regional festivals in the area, such as the Thao Suranaree victory day celebration. Partners are encouraged to promote their products services at festivals in the Khorat Geopark area (see the picture below) and pertinent international forums. For example, Dong Mafai coffee, a local coffee of Khorat Geopark, was presented and promoted at the 5th Asia-Pacific Geoparks Network Symposium at the Zhijindong UNESCO Global Geopark, China in 2017.


(Khorat Geopark products promoted in events of Creative Tourism and Local Product Fest 2019 and
Fossil Festival 2019 in The Mall Khorat, the shopping mall in Nakhon Ratchasima Province)

2.4 The overall quality and visibility of this policy (criteria used, a quantity of partners, etc.)

The aforementioned criteria for Khorat Geopark partners and branding policy helps the partners meet the standard requirements of the Science Center of Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University, Thailand, and/or the Department of Tourism (Ministry of Tourism and Sports) and/or Department of Health (Ministry of Public Health Thailand) at local or national or international levels. For example, geopark criteria for food products must follow the “Manual for the Operation of Clean Food Good Taste Project” by the Food Sanitation Division of the Department of Health to ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality overall. The quality of partners is visible from signs and certificates of the products and/or service that the vendors display at their places.

3. Full and effective participation of local communities and indigenous peoples

1) The Khorat Geopark is managed by the "bottom-up" concept, where decision making begins at the community level. Khorat Geopark works to strengthen the decision-making power and opportunities for local communities to develop the Geopark area. 

2) Seventeen of 24 members of the Board of Directors (ca 70%) were born in Khorat Geopark; Rapeepan Meepoka, an executive secretary of the Geopark and Parichat Kruainok, for example, an executive assistant secretary of the geopark, are members of the Thai-Khorat ethnic group. They help the members of the Board of directors have a better understanding and make for better decisions to match what local example communities need. They arrange activities at the local communities in different districts to help generate local revenue and promote the idea of community ownership and protection of natural, geological, and cultural assets of the Khorat Geopark.

3) Although communication in most local communities is limited primarily to the Thai language, a new policy by the Ministry of Education has been implemented to increase English standards in all courses of educational institutions pushing universities, colleges, and schools to produce or improve the quality of teaching foreign languages. At Suranaree Witthaya School in Mueang Nakhon Ratchasima District, many students can speak multiple languages, such as Thai, English, French, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, making them exceptional candidates as young tour guides for Khorat Geopark.



(International networks)