Sabah is now the third location in the world to have a Unesco triple crown site following the declaration of the Kinabalu National Geopark as the Kinabalu Unesco Global Geopark.
Chief Minister Hajiji Noor said the decision was made by Unesco's executive board in Paris on May 24, putting Sabah alongside Jeju Island in South Korea and Shennongjia in China in the distinction of having three Unesco sites.
Kinabalu Park's two other Unesco "crowns" are the World Heritage Site and the Unesco Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve, which were declared on Dec 2, 2000 and June 12, 2014 respectively.
"This is a great achievement for the state government under its Hala Tuju Sabah Maju Jaya initiatives through the tourism, culture and environment ministry and Sabah parks," he said in a statement today.
The Kinabalu Unesco Global Geopark, covering an area of 4,750 square km, is now officially a global geotourism destination adding significant value to Sabah's existing eco-tourism products, he added.
"The geopark is home to many endemic plants and animals, including 90 orchid species found only on Mount Kinabalu.
"This includes the crimson-headed partridge bird not found anywhere else on earth which will bring direct and indirect benefit to Sabah’s socio-economy, particularly to more than 290,000 local communities within the district of Kota Belud, Kota Marudu and Ranau," he said.
With the declaration of Kinabalu National Geopark as a Unesco Global Geopark, there are now 195 geoparks in the world located in 48 countries.
The Unesco Global Geopark label recognises the geological heritage of international significance.
Geoparks serve local communities by combining the conservation of their significant geological heritage with public outreach and a sustainable approach to development.