JOUR.GEOL.SOC.INDIA, VOL.79, APRIL 2012
GEOTOURIST MAP OF SRI LANKA. Geological Survey and Mines Bureau, Dehiwala, SriLanka, 2002. Scale: 1:500,000 with Handbook, 35p. Compiled by Pradeep Nalaka Ranasinghe.
Geotourism protects the geological and geographicalfeatures as well as natural landscapes of a place, its environs,culture, aesthetics and heritage. Geological Tourism is animportant component of geotourism that helps to sustainand enhance geoheritage sites. National Geographic Society(NGS) is a trendsetter in this field, with emphasis ongeographic sites. NGS brings out maps, guidebooks,photogalleries and videos to promote geotourism toimportant locales like Yellowstone National Park, GlacierNational Park, Appalachians, Central Cascades, SierraNevada, Arizona desert etc. Preservation of geosites isnecessary to save them from filling, bulldozing, roadconstruction, mining, vandalism and other related damages.Research in geotourism has scaled new heights in recentyears leading to a landmark publication in 2010 by D.Newsome and R. Dowling (Editors) entitled Geotourism:the tourism of geology and landscapes by GoodfellowPublishers, Oxford, 245p. The emerging scene of geotourismhighlights the nexus between landscapes, geologicalphenomena and tourism, and is propagated by magazineslike Journal of Heritage Tourism. Many countries have theirown geotourism programmes and the culture of geotourismis spreading fast. In India, the Geological Survey of Indiadid pioneering work of identifying geosites called NationalGeological Monuments for nearly four decades andpublished a volume in 2001 called the National GeologicalMonuments: A Pictorial Atlas (Special Publication, no.61,97p) to highlight the geological heritage of the country.Better upkeep and wider publicity would have brought ingreater glory to these valuable sites.
One of the multiple components of sustainablegeotourism is the creation and maintenance of Geoparks.Geopark is defined by UNESCO as a territory encompassingsites of scientific importance in terms of geology,archaeology, ecology and culture. Initiated around 1998,the Geopark concept grew in importance by 2007. Now it
has grown into a megaproject called the Global GeoparkNetwork Program of UNESCO in which many countriesparticipate. Countries like China have created more than 24geoparks. We are yet to make a significant headway inimplementing Indian geoparks programme.
It is in this context that we should welcome thepublication of Geotourist map of Sri Lanka by the GeologicalSurvey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) of Sri Lanka on1:500,000 scale (1 cm = 5 km). The compiler P.N.Ranasinghe with cartographic support by S. Karunadhipathi,and the Director of GSMB (N.P. Wijayananda) as publisherdeserve to be commended for their valuable effort. The mapindicates geotourist sites in different colours, representinginterests in archaeology, geomorphology, geology,geotechnics, mineral deposits and mineral-based industriesplotted on major road network. The main map in the centreis flanked by colour photographs and large inset maps ofspecific locales. The map is accompanied by a handbook(37 p.) that contains a brief review of geology,geomorphology, guide to and description of geosites.Important tourist routes are highlighted. The small-scale,reduced tourist map in the handbook is almost unreadableand may be deleted from future editions. An introduction orpreface to the handbook highlighting the aims and objectives,along with a list of the most important or must-see sites,and printing in a bigger font would have enhanced theusefulness of the handbook. On the whole the geotouristmap of Sri Lanka will increase the tourism potential of thecountry and will be an invaluable addition to the touristliterature of Sri Lanka.
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