Fourth Green Card Adds Feather In Cap For Langkawi Geopark

KUALA LUMPUR: Langkawi, known by its sobriquet the Jewel of Kedah, needs no introduction as it has since become one of the most visited tourist destinations worldwide.

For nature lovers, the Langkawi Unesco Global Geopark, which was formed on 99 islands that together made up the legendary Langkawi Archipelago, is definitely one not to be missed.Langkawi was declared a geopark by the Global Geopark (UGGp) network under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) on June 1, 2007, and subject to re-assessment every four years.

The island successfully retained the ‘green card’ status for the previous three re-assessments, which geology experts carried out in 2011, 2015 and 2019.

Langkawi was awarded the green card status for the fourth time after revalidation on June 30 to July 4 this year. This was announced at the 10th International Conference on Unesco Global Geoparks M’Goun Unesco Global Geopark in Morocco from September 7 to September 11.

A geopark refers to an area with geological and historical heritage sites that can be utilised by all parties for sustainable preservation, education and development. Hence, it is essential for a geopark to retain ecological, archaeological, historical and cultural attributes.

Fully supervised by the Kedah state government and the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada), its Adviser, Professor Emeritus Dr Ibrahim Komoo said various efforts had been taken to ensure the geopark preserves its green card status for the fourth time.

“A green card signifies renewal of the Unesco Global Geopark label, with Langkawi receiving its most recent green card in 2019. Due to our relentless efforts, we were able to retain our global geopark status early September this year, making this an important triumph for the entire nation,” he told Bernama recently.

Two-pronged development

Ibrahim who is also a professor from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) said there is an array of regional developments that need to be undertaken for Unesco to grant such an honorary green card.

“For instance, in the third assessment in 2019, one of the advancements we highlighted to the Unesco assessors was the participation of numerous hotel sector parties who established geopark galleries in their hotels, exhibiting their understanding of the need for developing this geopark together.

“Then, for the recent evaluation which took place this year, we have created two geo-tourism-related products and one of which is to transform Gunung Raya into a brand new geoforest park area. Previously, the area consisted of Kilim Karst, Machinchang and Dayang Bunting Lake.

“Other than that, we were also able to establish five new geo-trails in addition to Kubang Badak BioGeo Trail, all of which would be maintained by neighbourhood inhabitants,” he added.

Touching on one of the geotrails namely Pulau Tuba, Ibrahim said it has been under development for the past two years as a result of recent research showing that there are about 28 sites with geological, biological and cultural heritage values ​​on the island.

“Through this study, Lada has constructed several routes that connect all 28 of these places with the assistance of the island’s residents. The tour guide will narrate tales about the uniqueness of these priceless locations as you travel down this path.

“The residents of the area formed the Tuba Best Association, which is quite interesting because they are actively participating in this wholesome geotrails project. They are also willing to offer various transportation facilities such as electric buggies to make it easier for tourists to make their way along this route,” he said, adding that the projects are aimed at improving the socio-economic capacity of the local population.

Cooperation from all

Ibrahim added Langkawi Unesco Global Geopark is blessed with biodiversity in diverse habitats including mangroves, beaches and estuaries, hence making it

Ibrahim added Langkawi Unesco Global Geopark is blessed with biodiversity in diverse habitats including mangroves, beaches and estuaries, hence making it far more valuable to be protected at any cost.

At this reverie mangrove, tourists will not only have the chance to embrace the beauty of the mesmerising scenery, but will also get to see the fierce eagle, kingfishers, mudskippers, fiddler crabs, and monitor lizard, among others.

The Langkawi Geopark has the best-exposed and most complete Palaeozoic sedimentary sequence in Malaysia, from the Cambrian to the Permian period which took place around 220 million years ago.

Fortunately, he said, Pulau Langkawi residents from all walks of life have demonstrated their genuine dedication to maintaining the geopark by providing top-notch accommodations and facilities that are accessible to visitors around the clock.

“As you can see, everyone accomplished their part. School institutions are also collaborating with us to complete this global geopark mission. There are around 32 schools that have created a geopark information corner in their respective schools, while there is also participation of numerous children in the junior geopark guide programme which demonstrates the younger generation’s keen interest in protecting this natural gem,” said Ibrahim.

Safeguarding the nature

Meanwhile, Lada’s tourism manager, Dr Azmil Munif Mohd Bukhari, said the agency has established cooperation with various parties including the minerals and geosciences department (JMG) in dealing with any impact of climate change on the environment from interfering with the development and sustainability of Langkawi Geopark.

“We have several early warning systems established, particularly in the Telaga Tujuh waterfall region where there is a climbing route for the Machinchang Mountain because we recognise that the tremendous climate change that is occurring throughout the world can undoubtedly have an adverse impact on everyone.

“This warning system will notify that there is heavy rain and the possibility of causing water heads and strong wind debris flow that could endanger tourists in the area,” he added.

To prevent any harm to this natural heritage value, Lada has also protected the permanent forest reserves on the island from needless development.

“We are so lucky because almost 60 per cent of the geopark area in Langkawi are in a permanent forest reserve and it has been fully protected by the National Forest Act 1984 (Act 313).

“Therefore, we limit our development to the bare minimum required to serve both tourists and locals, such as piers, parking spaces, stalls and information centres. This is due to the fact that development cannot take place at random to maintain the protection of all these natural heritage locations,” he elaborated. – Bernama

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