Unesco recognition of Sarawak Delta Geopark by 2023

(Third left) Abang Johari together with (from left) Tourism, Arts and Culture (MTAC) Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah; Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Len Talif Salleh; Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and other dignitaries at the launching ceremony of Sarawak Delta Geopark held at Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) in Kuching. Photo: Japen

KUCHING: The state government is eyeing to get Sarawak Delta Geopark (SDGp) recognised under Unesco Global Geopark by 2023.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said this is one of its efforts to boost the tourism sector besides preserving the state’s nature heritage.

“The state government in November 2019 approved the proposed SDGp, which covers an area of approximately 311,246 hectares, to seek recognition as a national geopark.

“We hope that the SDGp will finally be elevated by 2023 as a Unesco Global Geopark,” he said when officiating at the launch of SDGp at Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) here today.

Sarawak Delta Geopark map. Photo: Japen

At present, there are 161 Unesco global geoparks worldwide.

In Malaysia, there is only one Unesco Global Geopark which is in Langkawi and three national geoparks, namely, Jerai Geopark in Kedah, Lembah Kinta Geopark in Perak and Kinabalu Geopark in Sabah.

The proposed SDGp area consists of land and water areas covering state government lands, state government reserves, title deeds, forest reserves, communal forests, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves.

The proposed SDGp area is under the administration of Kuching District, Bau District, Padawan Sub-District, a small part of Samarahan District and also Siburan Sub-District.

Existing attractions in the SDGp area include Bako National Park, Santubong National Park, Wind Cave Nature Reserve, Fairy Cave Nature Reserve among others.

According to Abang Johari, the selection of Sarawak Delta is appropriate because it has many remarkable geological and geomorphological features with high geoheritage value.

“In ‘Tuang Schist formation’ book, the scientist stated that the Sundaland basement is among the earliest sediments in the geological evolution of the Asian region, aged 355 million years.

“This is a very strong observation made by the scientist that there is scientific evolution and evidence in this particular area.

“That is why we want to bid this area as national geopark and our goal is to elevate it as an international Unesco global geopark.

“If SDGp is listed under Unesco, we will definitely be able to attract tourists to this area,” he said.

He further mentioned that the government would not limit the development or overdevelop the delta area because “there must be a balance between the environment and the basic needs of mankind”.

“What we want is co-existence in developing the cities and housing areas other than preserving the environment. This is doable with utilisation of land. We have our own way of doing it,” he assured.

Among those present at the ceremony were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan; Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Len Talif Salleh who is also the chairman of SDGp Steering Committee.