Langkawi most suitable site for Malaysia’s first Geopark

Langkawi is the most suitable site for declaration as Malaysia’s first geopark in line with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) geopark concept, a UKM don said today.

Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Samad Hadi, deputy vice-chancellor of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said part of the treasure trove of nature that was Langkawi should be preserved.

All the criteria to nominate Langkawi as a geopark were there and all that was it needed to make the bid a success was an integrated effort by all the parties concerned, he told reporters after the launch of an exhibition and a book, “Warisan Geologi Malaysia”, here.

A geopark is a designated area with several geological heritage sites containing valuable archaeological, ecological, historical and cultural resources.

It is not only suitable for scientific research but also for geo-tourism activities and can introduce a new economic source for the country.

Earlier, in his speech, Dr Abdul Samad said the discoveries made from several years of research in Langkawi should be preserved so that irresponsible parties did not smuggle out the valuable items which had a big market outside.

He said the researchers has taken time to announce their discoveries for fear of losing this invaluable heritage.

Several items displayed at in the exhbition showed that Langkawi had been in existence for 500 million years and is a veritable treasure chest of continuous historical records on the evolution of the earth in Malaysia from the Cambrian Age ( 520 million years ago) to the Jurassic Age 190 million years ago.

Fossils of the Brachiopod, a group of molluscs that emerged in the Paleozoic Age (500 million years ago) and became extinct at the end of the of the Permafrost Age (245 million years ago), found in Kilim, Durian Perangin, Batu Asah and the northern part of Pulau Singa Besar here had similiarities with the Brachiopod fauna from the fringe of the Gondwanaland sub-continent (Langkawi was at that time located in the southern hemisphere). This showed that Langkawi had a cold climate during that age.

Meanwhile, Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) general manager Datuk Zainal Karib Abdul Rahim said efforts to make Langkawi a geopark could start now with cooperation from all the relevant departments and agencies, including the Wildlife and National Parks Department, Environment and Development Institute, UKM and the Museums and Antiquities Department.

He said the geopark concept was introduced by Unesco in 1994 as an addition to its UNESCO World Heritage Site initiative.

Unesco hoped to set up 500 geoparks worldwide by selecting 20 sites as geoparks a year, he said.

He added that the effort would indirectly raise Langkawi’s status as an excellent nature tourism destination in the region.