By: Karmel Simatupang
In the discourse of bringing Lake Toba areas to be known internationally, geopark is inevitably the road to pursue this goal. This is a new brand which can be used as a strategy, not only to remind how the Toba devastating eruptions about thousand years ago, but also can be used to preserve the authenticity of environment, and the value of culture that lives in it. Yet, the government should strongly support the development of Toba Caldera Geopark (TCG) in particular.
Since President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has pushed for faster development of Lake Toba region within international brand, the National Toba Caldera Geopark is on that. Geopark is an international idea, which can bring the region into international communities, under its institution, the so-called UNESCO Global Geopark (UGG). This institution provides a framework of international cooperation, develops models of best practice, and set quality standard, which is based on strong community supports.
Geopark, in other word, is inevitably the best way to promote Lake Toba, as the world’s biggest super-volcano on earth. However, bringing TCG to become a member of UGG’s is one the most important issues in the region this year. And the deadline of the preparation is in November 2017. Hence, its matter needs more supports by all of stakeholders, and of course portion budgets in order to solve lacking facilities in all of geo, bio and culture sites of TCG at the ground.
However, even though Toba Caldera has got its national geopark status since 2013, the progress of National TCG management is quite slow. This is because the government, especially North Sumatra provincial government, and seven regencies surrounding Lake Toba areas seem likely hesitant to allocate the needed budgets. That is why the improvement of infrastructure of the 16th TCG geosites priority is still hard to change, even up to nowadays. However, these geosites should be ready to be a central of educational sites for tourism and other visitors, as recording of how Toba super-volcano was and its history.
It was of the five recommendations from UGG’s, when TCG was not accepted as UGG in 2015. That means before TCG can resubmit its UGG application, the following element must be in place; unified education plan, understanding education panel at the geosites, promotion and marketing strategy, developing cultural tourism strategy, and geopark activities must be happening in all geoareas-geosites of TCG.
Geopark manages three diversities; geological, biological and cultural diversities, which are an integrated concept of protection/conservation, education and sustainable development goals. This concept is very suitable for the current physical conditions of TCG areas, since the geopark in essence is turned to how to conserve the Toba Caldera, and develop its local economy communities.
In sum, TCG is the way, and opportunity in order to accomplish Lake Toba region to be one of the national’s, and world’s destination areas. As the government pursues it, the most important step is how to accelerate of development infrastructure especially in the 16th geosites of TCG. It requires working together with all of TCG stakeholders; local people, private sector, the Toba Community Lovers, and especially governments. Therefore, TCG areas can succeed as international site, by way in successfully resubmitting its UGG’s application in the next few months.
Secretary of TCG Management Board