Seeking national recognition for Sarawak Delta Geopark

Mount Jemus.

KUCHING: The Sarawak government is committed to ensuring that the Sarawak Delta Geopark (SDGP) is recognised as a national geopark this year.

According to a statement on Monday (Jan 17), a geopark is an area that has a geological heritage site that can be used by all parties for the purpose of conservation, education and sustainable development.

The purpose of the geopark is to provide an integrated regional development mechanism that includes the preservation of natural heritage, economic development and community development based on geological heritage resources.

Therefore, the selection of Sarawak Delta as a geopark is very appropriate because the area meets the characteristics of a geopark; it has many remarkable geological and geomorphological features with high geoheritage value.

The proposal to get SDGP recognition as a National Geopark and subsequently, the UNESCO Global Geopark was approved by the state government in Nov 2019 and launched by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg on Apr 9, 2021 at the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV).

This 311,246-hectare area covering land and water areas represents a special union of geological, biological and cultural heritage found in Kuching, Bau, Padawan and Siburan.

Therefore, an evaluation session will begin today until Jan 21 involving two panels of evaluators, namely, Prof Dr Felix Tongkul from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), who is a geologist, and Prof Datuk Dr Mohammad Tajuddin Abdullah from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT), an expert in biology.

The session will also be attended by an observer Suslyna Abdul Latib from PlanMalaysia and a representative from the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.

Apart from a briefing session, the panels will visit geosites, biosites and heritage sites at SCV and Tanjung Tgok Santubong, Kuching Wetland National Park, Bako National Park as well as Tasik Biru and Bung Jagoi cultural site in Bau.

Prior to that, a panel of assessors and observers will be celebrated at a dinner where they will be presented with cultural performances from various Sarawak ethnic groups as well as various unique local foods (geofood).

The evaluation will be carried out by a panel of evaluators as well as observers from the National Geopark Evaluation Committee.

This evaluation session is very important in the state government’s efforts to obtain SDGP recognition as a national geopark and further at the international level for efforts to protect and preserve geological heritage, biodiversity, history and culture through the concept of sustainable development.

In developing the SDGP area, the state government will emphasise three main aspects, namely, heritage preservation and conservation, economic development and community development.

The SDGP will be a platform for integrating nature (geodiversity and biodiversity) and cultural heritage conservation as a balanced entity.

This effort will take into account the interests of all stakeholders such as local authorities, the general public, tourism industry players and the local community.

Recognition as a geopark will not change existing development policies. It should be in line with the existing land use as well as that which has been planned by the state government.

Through geotourism development initiatives, it indirectly develops the socio-economy of the population through geotourism in the place.

Geotourism is a new product that introduces geological landscapes to knowledge-based and recreational tourism-based communities. It is also hoped that this initiative will be able to create integrated conservation of natural resources and cultural heritage.

This can provide more attractive tourism packages to be marketed to local and foreign tourism.

International recognition through this initiative can be used as a brand in promoting the area as a tourist destination which will ultimately benefit the local community.

Tanjung Rhu.
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