WWF-Malaysia Wants Terengganu Government To Widen Turtle Sanctuary

Posted on August 6, 2011. Filed under: Eco-tourism |

KEMAMAN, Aug 6 (Bernama) — World Wildlife Fund-Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) wants the Terengganu Government to increase the turtle sanctuary area in Ma’Daerah Kerteh to make it an effective conservatory centre for turtles.

Its state head of conservatory programme for turtles and sea terrapins, Rahayu Zulkifli, said the gazetted 23.65 hectares needed to be extended to 70 hectares.

He said this was to cover lowland sea areas on the beach, as well as the edges of Bukit Labohan Kecil and Labohan Besar.

“Both Bukit Labohan Besar and Kecil act as the critical buffer for the turtle sanctuary by protecting it from the sun, noise pollution and other disturbances.

“By gazetting both hills under the Terengganu State Land Enactment 1986, it will help ensure the buffer zone is permanently preserved and Ma’daerah remains protected as a vital turtle sanctuary centre in the country,” she told Bernama Saturday.

She said the entire state coastal area needed to be gazetted to prevent turtles from being trapped in the fishing nets.

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Sarawak Reaffirms Commitment to Maintaining Biodiversity in 2011

Posted on March 1, 2011. Filed under: Bio-diversity, Eco-tourism |

/PRNewswire/ — The Government of Sarawak successfully balanced economic development with environmental protection in 2010. As the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) initiative surges forward in 2011, the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to protecting forest cover and ensuring biodiversity.

Sarawak’s rapid economic development has dramatically improved the lives of Sarawakians. As new industries have arisen, residential, educational and infrastructure projects have been established in the State. In order to protect the environment from the increasing pressures of economic development, the Government of Sarawak has introduced a robust system of regulation.

Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud said: “Sarawak has demonstrated its commitment to protecting and enhancing the biodiversity of its forests for nearly a century. Over this period, Sarawak has introduced a robust and comprehensive legal and institutional framework through which a successful programme of sustainable forest management has been established. The Government of Sarawak is dedicated to ensuring that our diverse and intricate ecosystem is protected for future generations.”

Sarawak is covered by 10.338 million hectares (103,380 km sq) of forest, which comprises 84% of the State’s total surface area and equates to 4.1 hectares (0.041 km sq) per person. There are 247 species of trees in Sarawak, more than any other tropical rainforest in the world, supporting 185 species of mammals, 530 species of bird and 154 species of snake. Sarawak is also abundant in flora with 280 species of palm flora, representing 10% of the world’s total, and 10,000 to 12,000 species of flowering plant.

Sarawak has a long history of forest conservation, with its Forest Department established in 1919 to manage and conserve the State’s forest resources. Through collaboration with other government agencies, such as the Sarawak Forestry Corporation and the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation, the Forest Department ensures forests are maintained and preserved.

A fundamental cornerstone of the Government of Sarawak’s commitment to sustainable forest management is the Forest Management Plan, which forms part of the Forest Timber Licence. This means that timber harvesting is limited to particular units of land. Each unit has a plan which dictates how harvesting can be carried out, the species that can be removed, the minimum cutting diameter limits, the annual harvest area and the volume of timber allowed. The plan also sets out the penalties for damaging residual trees.

Sarawak’s wood resources comprise a vital component of the State’s economic output. However, the rate at which trees can be cut down annually is capped under the Ninth Malaysia Plan at 170,000 hectares (1700 km sq), or about 1.7% of the total forest area. In addition, to ensure sustainability, the State operates a comprehensive reforestation programme. So far the Forest Department has issued 45 licences for Planted Forests covering an area of 2.8 million hectares (28,000 km sq), thereby reducing Sarawak’s dependency on natural forests. From this, one million hectares (10,000 km sq) will be developed for planting fast growing species. It is estimated that about 15 million cubic metres will be produced annually from these plantations. The remaining area covered by the Licences for Planted Forest will be for conservation.

The Government of Sarawak also acknowledges the importance of the State’s forests in sustaining indigenous populations. As such, the government has set aside 12,800 hectares (128 km sq) of primary forest for the Penan people to continue with their preferred nomadic way of life. In addition, the Penan can also use Gunung Mulu National Park (52,900 hectares or 529 km sq).

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Geological wonder now called Rockhaven

Posted on January 26, 2011. Filed under: Eco-tourism |

-The Star-

IPOH: A 280-million-year-old, 14-storey-high rock in Tambun is finally getting the attention it deserves.

The geological wonder is one of only four such formations in the world: the others are located in Guilin, China; Halong Bay, Vietnam; and Phuket, Thailand.

“Perakians should be very proud of the fact that you have such a rare species of geology in your own backyard,” said Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) Shell Chair in Petroleum Geosciences Prof Dr Bernard Pierson, who dated the rock.

The rock came to public attention after luxury condominium project The Haven Lakeside Residences was launched here last year.

Geological wonder: The 280-million-year-old rock at The Haven Lakeside Residences, Ipoh, which has been named ‘Rockhaven’.

It has been named “Rockhaven” in the “Name the Rock” contest organised by Superboom Projects Sdn Bhd, developers of The Haven.

Its chief executive officer Peter Chan said the winning name, submitted by teacher Lydia Teh, was selected for its simplicity and the fact that it would be immediately associated with The Haven.

“The contest was inspired by the rare geological find that the rock represents,” he said.

“Every effort is being made to ensure that the natural state of the site and its surrounding areas are carefully preserved.

“The rock and the pristine lake in which it rests will be left untouched so that our residents can enjoy them in their natural state.”

Teh, a Cambridge English for Life Centre manager from Kuala Lumpur, picked up RM25,000 for her winning entry.

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Malaysian Tioman Island shirks most development, thrives on natural beauty

Posted on January 16, 2011. Filed under: Eco-tourism |

By Susan Spano Special to the Los Angeles Times

The largely undeveloped Malaysian Tioman Island has vivid coral reefs, great backpacking areas and a few resorts. A perfect spot for the budget-conscious beach lover.

Reporting from Tioman Island, Malaysia —

Even when you tell people where Tioman Island is — that it’s a patch of jungle off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia — you’ll still get no glimmer of comprehension. Fine with me, because that makes Tioman everything I want in a castaway island, especially when seen from the perspective of a chilly Southern California winter’s day.

I came here while traveling around Southeast Asia in October because I wanted to crash on a beach for a few days without spending a fortune. I’d read that Tioman is a regular Bali Hai, rimmed by beaches and a handful of villages — or kampungs — whose budget digs are colonized by divers and backpackers.

It has a single police station, airport and ATM, about a mile of paved road and just one large, self-contained resort that caters chiefly to package vacationers from Singapore and Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.
The otherwise undeveloped island is a Malaysian national park. Think thriving coral reefs, strangler plants, giant palms, flying squirrels, monitor lizards; don’t think king cobras and reticulated pythons, but know they are here.

October seemed the right time for Tioman, just before the monsoon season essentially closes the island to visitors from November to March. So I booked a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tioman for $70 round trip and reserved a beachfront chalet with air conditioning for $100 a night at an isolated eco-resort known for its natural setting and sea turtle breeding program, then took it from there.

Sometimes I like to travel without a lot of information. You can go wrong, for sure. Or you can have an adventure.

The little airport on Tioman sits beneath long-extinct volcanic peaks in the main village of Tekek, an agglomeration of mom-and-pop resorts — to use the term loosely — cafes and dive shops splayed along the waterfront. The Malaysian government recently completed an oversized marina in Tekek, vacant when I was here, and made the island a duty-free port, meaning cheap cigarettes and beer.

After landing, a couple of kids headed north on foot toward the backpacker hamlet of Air Batang and a bus from the big Berjaya Resort (a favorite, it appeared, of honeymoon couples) picked up everybody else.

I waited at the dock for my transfer to the Melina Beach Resort, which eventually arrived in the form of a small, sea-worn vessel with an outboard motor known as a bumboat. It took me south from Tekek, past villages with traditional Malaysian houses on stilts and government piers built hundreds of feet into the surf to ensure access during low tides. The scenery got wilder as we rounded the coast, a scalloped pie crust of sandy coves bounded on both sides by apparently impassable headlands.

Melina Beach, which gets a star in the Lonely Planet guide to Malaysia, is marked by a burgeoning beach almond tree and mounds of huge, surf-modeled boulders. The resort, whimsically designed and built by hand to avoid disturbing the natural environment, has no dock. I got my skirt wet walking about 50 feet from the boat to the beach, a carpet of coral shards, some shells and the occasional plastic bottle, washed ashore, perhaps, from the Texas-sized “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

Also posted are hand-lettered signs that say “Falling coconuts.” Although most of the signs had fallen down, even upright they seemed superfluous. Who in the world would be unlucky enough to get beaned by a coconut?

The maitre d’ — again using the term loosely — an ageless Malaysian named Cheng Siong Suan, interrupted his sandbagging of some surf-eroded steps to give me a glass of frothy, freshly squeezed pineapple juice. He introduced me to the house cat, the hugely pregnant Marco Polo, pointed out treetops where macaques hung out and showed me the pen where endangered baby sea turtles, bred from locally purchased eggs, were kept before their launch into the ocean.

The resort’s previous owner, a German named Peter, had started the hatchery, Cheng told me pointedly. The Irishman named Patrick Hedderman who had taken over a year ago would be there shortly, he added with a dour expression.

Remote little inns like Melina Beach often have their own stories. This one was “The Tempest,” with Hedderman as the lonely wizard Prospero and Cheng as the doleful slave Caliban. They played an engaging tug-of-war.

Hedderman, who came to the resort as a guest for more than a decade before taking over, later explained that he bought it with his sister who runs a Singapore-based ecology field trip company for private school children. Even more than eco-tourism, exposing kids to nature is the Melina Beach mission. Part of the open-air dining pavilion is given over to a classroom with tropical fish charts and specimen jars, and bungalows in a tight semicircle at the rear of the camp-like compound serve as student quarters.

My room was in a dark and creaky cabin on the beach, so drably decorated that I kept wanting to hang new curtains. It had a feeling of tropical desuetude along with a porch, a net-swathed double bed and a private bath. The wall-less shower got everything wet when in operation and was irresistible to mosquitoes. I tried to kill as many of them as I could every time I went in; it was swat or be eaten.

I’d been hoping for a Malaysian Post Ranch Inn, so I was mildly disappointed. But I loved sleeping under mosquito netting and the AC proved effective. Besides, the resort’s raison d’etre is the natural environment — mosquitoes included, I guess.

And what an environment it is.

I immediately pulled on my bathing suit and waded into the surf, snorkel mask at hand. As the shallows deepened, I swam, eventually finding the reef, a garden of staghorn, brain, table and tunicate corals so brightly colored you’d swear they were fake. It was like the backdrop for an underwater opéra bouffe made of mauve, chartreuse, cherry and sulfur yellow coral mountains with a cast costumed as tropical fish. Later I used the resort’s natural history booklet to identify some of the varieties: golden damsel, banded butterfly fish and red-breasted wrasse.

I’d never seen such a flourishing reef. Two hours flew by while I snorkeled, plunging deep to inspect groves of long-spined, silver sea urchins; huge, phallic sea cucumbers; and orange clownfish foraging in pink-tasseled sea anemones, their symbiotic partners. Sometimes I felt a nibble at my feet and jackknifed to catch sight of a snapper in speedy retreat.

After that there was no flashy tropical sunset. The pale pink and blue of the sky just got softer and softer until it was night and the lights in the dining hall came on. Over barbecued tiger prawns and vegetable stir-fry, accompanied by a glass of Australian Sauvignon Blanc, Hedderman described the reef’s vulnerability to great and small dangers, including bumboat anchors and a new international airport planned on reclaimed coast in front of the resort but postponed when conservationists protested.

Given the construction that has turned much of mainland Malaysia into South Florida, Tioman’s relatively pristine state seems miraculous. It has escaped intensive development, Hedderman said, not so much because of environmental concerns but because of the country’s bumiputera laws, aimed at keeping land in the hands of ethnic Malaysians. On Tioman they live in ramshackle houses with jerry-built utilities. There’s little incentive to change. Even for stray cats, living is easy and lush.

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I wanted to explore the nearby villages of Genting and Paya, connected to the resort by an overgrown path through the jungle, presumably creeping with giant millipedes, lizards and snakes. After inspecting the trail head at the back of the resort, I decided to stay put until I started talking with one of the eco-field trip teachers from Singapore. Her students were so pampered and citified that some of them didn’t know how to make their own sandwiches when they got there. But after a week at the resort, they were identifying briny sea creatures and thrashing, dauntlessly, through the rainforest.

So I tagged along with them the next morning on a walk to Genting, about half a mile south of Melina Beach. The rocky path was steep but well-worn, with dilapidated bridges over ravines. The group stopped to observe a long-tailed macaque in a jackfruit tree and listen to the call of a tailor bird.

When we arrived at the village, the kids took out their cellphones to call home and bought postcards in little variety stores. But I went on, passing the waterfront volleyball court and mosque, a monitor lizard on a tree in someone’s backyard, a group of village men playing poker.

At the last resort before the path petered out, I met a Malaysian couple breakfasting on fried fish they caught that morning, sat down with them for a taste and talked about their recent trip across Asia on the Silk Road.

Every morning after that I found resort guests to join me on field trips — a bumboat cruise to Asah waterfall south of Melina Beach and a hike across the island to the village of Juara, just as dilapidated as Genting but smaller. Cheng lightened up marginally. When I told him I was scared of snakes he caught a baby python and displayed it at breakfast.

Hedderman told me about his plans to build new bungalows, grow herbs and hire a biologist to take guests on nature walks and snorkeling expeditions.

Every afternoon I went back into the fish bowl for another episode in the continuing saga of “As the Reef Turns.”

On my last morning I was lying on a wooden chaise waiting for my bumboat transfer back to the airport when I heard a thud and realized a coconut had dropped about 2 inches from my shoulder.

I was shocked at first, but then I laughed.

Truly, it’s as Caliban says in “The Tempest”:

The isle is full of noises,

Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.



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Ministry to work with media to promote clean, green campaign

Posted on October 22, 2010. Filed under: Eco-tourism |

-The Star- KUALA LUMPUR: The Tourism Ministry is committed to collaborating with media groups to increase public awareness on the 1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean campaign.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the campaign is aimed at changing the mindset, habits and attitudes of Malaysians towards cleanliness.

“This is an initiative to spread the message that every Malaysian needs to contribute to making the country clean,” she said at a press conference yesterday to announce the media collaboration.

The media partners are The Star Group, Media Prima Group, New Straits Times Press, NST-Travel, Harian Metro, Sin Chew Daily, Guang Ming Daily, Nanyang Siang Pau, China Press, Jiayu (Astro Channel 304) and Malay Mail.

“The 1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean campaign is part of the ministry’s efforts to engage the public and corporations to make Malaysia clean and attractive for all residents,” said Dr Ng.

The ministry would allocate RM5mil for the first phase for promotions and activities for the campaign throughout the year.

The campaign will involve the public, tourists, secondary school students, private bodies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The campaign will be promoted in The Star’s special environment pullout – Go Green Live Green every third Tuesday of the month.

The Star will also make the 1Malaysia Green, 1Malaysia Clean part of its BRATs activities and it will also feature in the The Star Kids Fair 2010.

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Japanese students go jungle-trekking

Posted on October 5, 2010. Filed under: Eco-tourism |

-The Star- SOME 232 students from Ina High School in Ibaraki, Japan, are in Malaysia on a three-day educational and cultural exchange programme at SMK Section 10 Kota Damansara in Petaling Jaya.

The group, accompanied by 13 teachers, was welcomed to the school with kompang and bunga manggar yesterday.

The Japanese students were put into groups of 10 with their local counterparts for activities like outdoor and indoor traditional games, science project, language classes, art, football and a nature walk.

Twenty-six of them were then paired with 26 local students to take part in a nature walk at the Kota Damansara Community Forest Park.

Nature walk: The students walking the trail in the Kota Damansara Community Forest Park.

They were accompanied by Malaysia Nature Society guides.

The guides gave information on the forest as part of an awareness programme for the students.

Friends of Kota Damansara co-chairman Jeffrey Phang said the jungle-trekking activity was to expose the students on the importance of preserving the forest.

“We want to show why it is important for the eco-system to have forest and relate it to global warming.

“The forest is used by many people including university students who come regularly for their studies,” he said.

Haruka Kojima, 17, said it was interesting to see a forest as they were not the same in Japan.

She said despite the differences in weather, the greenery in Malaysia was nice.

“I am excited to learn about nature as this my first time venturing into a forest,” she said.

The students will also go to KLCC and visit Malacca during their stay.

The annual programme is organised by the school and the Japanese Travel Bureau.

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Malaysia to sell flora trails

Posted on October 4, 2010. Filed under: Eco-tourism |

-The Star- KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia is set to market trails for its flora as another tourism product.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said such trails would bring high yields as tourists who were passionate about flowers were likely to spend more time and return for other trails offered in the country.

Sabah would be the pioneer state to market such packages.

Flower power: Dr Ng receiving a memento from Borneo Orchid Society president Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin after opening the seminar in Kota Kinabalu yesterday. — Bernama

“This is part of our strategy to develop packages to bring in more longer-staying tourists,” she told reporters after opening an orchid seminar held in conjunction with the Borneo Orchid Show 2010 here yesterday.

Dr Ng said the Sabah Tourism Board had been tasked with pioneering the development of floral trail packages as the state had iconic flowers ranging from orchids to the Rafflesia.

The board, she added, was currently training tour guides for such packages.

Dr Ng said Tourism Malaysia would be presenting the floral trail as a new product at the International Tourism Bourse in Berlin next March.

She said her ministry was also encouraging the Sabah Tourism Board to consider bidding to host the World Conference of Orchids in 2012.

“Sabah is the best place to host it with its natural forest cover, the attraction is for conference participants to go and see the plants in their natural surroundings,” she said, adding that tourism played an important role in preserving the biodiversity of a country where over 54% of the land area was under natural forest management.

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Langkawi hit by jellyfish boom

Posted on September 1, 2010. Filed under: Eco-tourism |

-The Star- LANGKAWI: Improper dumping of sewage and the disappearance of turtles has caused an explosion in the jellyfish population which is threatening tourism here.

In the first 21 days of July alone, 185 cases of jellyfish attacks on tourists and residents including fishermen were recorded and this is becoming a cause of concern to the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada).

The authority is seeking Malaysia Nature Society’s help to reduce the number of jellyfish.

Lada’s economic affairs assistant officer Shajiddeen Shaari said the best way to curb the number of jellyfish would be to prevent marine pollution.

However, he said they faced problems in increasing the number of turtles, which feed on jellyfish, because of pollution along the beaches.

Fishy problem: Bags containing jellyfish that were scooped from Pantai Cenang recently and (inset) a bucket containing jellyfish of an unknown species which are commonly found around Langkawi.

“Turtles mistake plastic bags for food as to they look like floating jellyfish to the turtles,” said Shajiddeen.

He said jellyfish are also reducing the fish population as they eat fish eggs.

Veteran nature guide Othman Ayeb said rising water temperatures due to pollution also contributed to the jellyfish boom.

He said that in the past, the jellyfish were usually found some 5km to 10km away from the shoreline.

“However, due to the improper management of sewage from resorts and hotels, the jellyfish started to breed along the shore,” he said.

Othman added that Pantai Cenang has the highest number of jellyfish because of the bad water quality.

“However, we have yet to ascertain the jellyfish species,” he said, adding that samples will be sent to Universiti Sains Malaysia for proper identification.

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Malaysia may close more dive sites hit by coral bleaching

Posted on July 28, 2010. Filed under: Climate Change, Eco-tourism |

(AFP) – Malaysia may close three more popular dive sites in the South China Sea which have been hit by coral bleaching blamed on global warming, an official said Wednesday.

Last week authorities announced the closure of nine dive sites on the tropical islands of Tioman and Redang until the end of October in an attempt to relieve stress on the fragile marine ecosystems.

The two islands are located off the east coast of Malaysia in the South China Sea.

Marine authorities said they were studying a proposal to shut down three more sites on Redang island after resort operators said they detected coral bleaching and wanted the diving spots closed.

“We have received the proposal, we will study it and verify the matter,” a marine park official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The dive sites will only be closed if more than 60 percent of the coral has been damaged, she added.

The closure would give the coral a chance to regenerate and would remove stress caused by tourism-related activities such as diving.

Coral bleaching, which can eventually kill corals, occurs when stresses such as rising sea temperatures disrupt the delicate, symbiotic relationship between the corals and their host organisms.

The marine department has said 60 to 90 percent of the coral in some areas of the closed sites has been damaged.

The reefs in Redang and Tioman island attract some 500,000 tourists annually.

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WWF lauds move to close dive destinations to protect bleached coral

Posted on July 23, 2010. Filed under: Eco-tourism |

-The Star-

PETALING JAYA: Pre-emptive measures like closing the affected dive destinations to reduce stress to the bleached corals is important, said WWF-Malaysia.

It said the closure of affected dive sites was a temporary measure to minimise further stress to the bleached corals.

“However, it is important to take pre-emptive measures against events like this by putting more resources into marine protected area management, preventing coastal and marine pollution and promoting sustainable fisheries,” it said in a statement Friday.

WWF-Malaysia hoped that the Government would adopt and implement Ecosystem Based Management of Fisheries and strengthen Marine Protected Area Management and Integration.

On Thursday, The Star reported that several dive sites in Tioman and Redang were temporarily marked off-limits to divers until the end of October.

These two of the top dive destinations and a marine park, Pulau Payar in Kedah, are affected by coral bleaching, a phenomenon caused by global warming that has increased sea water temperature by 2°C to between 28°C and 29°C.

Marine Park Department director-general Abd Jamal Mydin said this was done to protect the coral reefs that had turned white.

He said that the department would continue to monitor popular dive sites affected by coral bleaching.

WWF-Malaysia said coral bleaching occurred when coral reefs were stressed.

“At a local scale, the stress may include disease, pollution, sedimentation, cyanide fishing, changes in salinity and temperature, and storms,” it said.

The trust said mass bleaching events like what Malaysia was currently experiencing primarily due to increased sea temperatures.

Temperature increased of one to two degree celsius above the long term average maximum could already triggered mass bleaching.

However, WWF-Malaysia said corals could recover from bleaching events, but they must have support for factors that promote coral resiliency.

Studies shown that the recovery success of healthy coral systems was much higher than the degraded ones.

Good water quality, high coral cover and an abundant, and diverse community of herbivorous fishes are important conditions to promote coral recovery, said WWF-Malaysia.

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