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Published on March 29, 2014

The magnificent Lake Toba in North Sumatra was designated National Geopark by President Yudhoyono, together with the official inauguration of the brand new Kualanamu Airport of Medan and 5 other airports in Sumatra, on 27 March 2014. Its main aim, said the President is to raise the management of this spectacular volcanic crater lake, the largest in the world.

With its size of 100 km in length, 30 km wide and 505 meters deep, at 900 meters above sea level, Lake Toba came into being as a result of a massive explosion of the supervolcano some 75,000 years ago. It is considered the biggest volcanic eruption on earth in the past 2 million years, which caused the onset of earth’s volcanic winter. The ash of the Toba eruption has been discovered as far away as Lake Malawi in East Africa. While, the island of Samosir in the middle of Lake Toba is equal in size to the island of Singapore. Samosir is the heart of the indigenous Batak ethnic culture.

This will be the second geopark to be submitted by Indonesia to UNESCO to be designated Global Geopark after Mt. Batur caldera Global Geopark in Bali, that was recognized by UNESCO in 2012. Whereas, Lake Toba Geopark will only be submitted to the international organization at the end of this year, said Surono, Indonesia’s chief geologist, now Head of the Geological Board of the Ministry of Energy and Mining.

A Geopark is a concept for the conservation of unique and signficanct areas of the earth. Brainchild of UNESCO, it is under coordination of the International Network of Geoparks (INOG). Areas to be selected for conservation are not only for geological purposes, but also for their archaelogical, ecological and cultural values. Its core concept is not solely to conserve geological assets but moreover in order to improve the balance in the relationship between mankind and nature. For this reason, the involvement of local inhabitants becomes most essential, especially those living around Lake Toba, so as to protect the Lake’s environment, said Surono.

Unfortunately, Lake Toba and its surroundings have not been well managed so far. So that in order to improve the ecology, an organization has been set up, participated by all shareholders including the Environment Board of North Sumatra, the office of Mining and Energy, and representatives of the 7 Districts surrounding Lake Toba.

Other unique geological assets in Indonesia envisaged to be designated geoparks will be the Tambora caldera on the island of Sumbawa. This volcano exploded in 1815 which caused Europe’s Year without Summer. Another famous volcano is Mt. Krakatau in the Sunda Strait, whose eruption in 1883 caused its ash to be carried by the wind around the globe, Its explosion created a new volcano called Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau), which has become a natural lab for biologists to study succeeding ecology after a devastating eruption of a volcano.