Malaysian Geopark representatives visit Marble Arch.

Four representatives of the Langkawi Global Geopark in Malaysia visited Fermanagh and Cavan this week to see how the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark is managed and operated.

From left: Dr. Kirstin Lemon, Ms Sarah Aziz, Dr Geraldine Chan, Prof.Dr. Ong Puay Liu, Richard Watson, Datin Paduka Dr Halimaton Saadiah Hashim, Prof. Patrick Mc Keever, Martina O`Neill and Michelle Shannon

The Malaysian visitors work for the University Kebangsaan Malaysia – the National University of Malaysia – and visited the Marble Arch Caves Global geopark and the North Pennines Geopark in England as part of their research into preparing a management plan for the Langkawi Global Geopark.

They discussed geopark management issues and procedures relating to tourism, the environment, education and community involvement with members of the Management Team of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark and also visited a number of geopark sites.

The group stayed at the Arch House farm guesthouse in Florencecourt, County Fermanagh where they were able to see a successful example of farmhouse tourism and were able to discuss farm conservation techniques with the owners, Rosemary and Geoffrey Armstrong.

Sarah Aziz, one of the Malaysian visitors said “We have been overwhelmed by the warm, friendly greetings we have had from people here in Ireland. We all hope to come back and I will be bringing my family here on holiday later this year.”

Professor Ong Puay Liu said “The Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark is well known and respected as an excellent example of a successful geopark. We are here because we want to build on our own successes in Langkawi by picking up on the best practice demonstrated by leading geoparks.”

The Langkawi Global Geopark is Malaysia’s first UNESCO Global Geopark and is situated in the beautiful Langkawi islands off the northwest coast of Malaysia close to the border with Thailand. The University Kebangsaan Malaysia actively supports the development of the geopark in Langkawi in conjunction with the Langkawi Development Association, local authorities and the government of the Malaysian State of Kedah.

There are 99 islands in the Langkawi archipelago with a wide range of geology such as sandstone, limestone, granite and marble. The islands are a popular tourist destination for visitors from Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Asia and have a dramatic, rugged landscape that contains a range of striking features including mountains, ridges, waterfalls, caves, inaccessible limestone pinnacles, and golden sandy beaches. Many of the smaller islands rise steeply out of the sea and are covered in dense jungle vegetation.