Sunday, June 26, 2011

Langkawi Geopark

Langkawi, a cluster of 99 islands separated from mainland Malaysia by the Straits of Malacca, is a district of the state of Kedah in Northern Malaysia and lies approximately 51 km west of Kedah. The total land mass of the islands is 47,848 hectares, while the main island of Langkawi itself has a total of 32,000 hectares. The main island spans about 25 km from north to south and slightly more for east and west. The coastal areas consist of flat, alluvial plains punctuated with limestone ridges. Two-thirds of the island is dominated by forest-covered mountains, hills and natural vegetation.

Langkawi Geopark is Malaysia’s first geopark and was included in the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network as the 52nd member. What we have in Langkawi today is a result of these various processes and the prolonged weathering process that took place ever since the Langkawi land was brought to the surface around 220 million years ago.

Langkawi Archipelago possesses the oldest rock formation and the most complete Palaeozoic sedimentary rock sequence in the South-east Asia region.

Langkawi possesses some very interesting geological history, unique geodiversity and some very beautiful geological landscape, together these features formed many geoheritage sites to support Langkawi Geopark.

Complementing this rich geodiversity is the island’s rich flora and fauna. These rich natural resources together with diverse local culture have always been the attraction in promoting Langkawi as leading ecotourism hub in the region.

90 geosites has been identified within Langkawi Geopark. Some of the geoheritage sites are grouped together within larger conservation unit called the geoforest park while others are classified into either geological monument or protected geosites. Geoforest park is a conservation area with combination between geology and forest. Langkawi Geopark is the first geopark in the world that ever used such initiative for nature conservation. Most of the geoheritage sites are located within the present forest reserves and thus are protected under the conservation law of the Forestry Department. There are three geoforest parks in Langkawi Geopark; Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest Park, Kilim Karst Geoforest Park and Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park. Each geoforest parks have their own strength and outstanding features. Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest Park hosts the oldest rock formation in Malaysia that is Machinchang Formation and Langkawi Geopark Cable car operating at the peak of Machinchang Mountain. Kilim Karst Geoforest Park features breathtaking islands karst landscape and home to two species of eagles and other wildlife and mangroves. Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park also featured karstic landscape but from a mixture of marble of Chuping Formation and limestone of Setul Formation. This park has some fine wave related features such as sea stacks, sea arches and sea caves. The fresh water lake named Dayang Bunting Lake formed from doline and local community believed the lake could fulfill wishes for childless married couples to gain fertility.

The realization of Langkawi Geopark is a testimony to endless effort to make these islands a premier ecotourism destination in this part of the world.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Global Geoparks Network (GGN)

A Geopark is defined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in its UNESCO Geoparks International Network of Geoparks programme as follows:
A territory encompassing one or more sites of scientific importance, not only for geological reasons but also by virtue of its archaeological, ecological or cultural value.
The Geoparks initiative was launched by UNESCO in response to the perceived need for an international initiative that recognizes sites representing an earth science interest.[1] Global Geoparks Network program aims at enhancing the value of such sites while at the same time creating employment and promoting regional economic development.For the purposes of the program the organization developed the new internationally recognized label 'UNESCO Geopark'. The idea of UNESCO is to label up to 500 Geoparks worldwide. The UNESCO Geopark Program works in synergy with UNESCO's World Heritage Centre and Man and the Biosphere (MAB) World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
The International Network of Geoparks (INoG) is a UNESCO programme established in 1998. According to UNESCO, for a Geopark to qualify in the INoG, it needs to:
- have a management plan designed to foster socio-economic development that is sustainable (most likely to be based on agritourism and geotourism)
- demonstrate methods for conserving and enhancing geological heritage and provide means for teaching geoscientific disciplines and broader environmental issues
- have joint proposals submitted by public authorities, local communities and private interests acting together, which demonstrate the best practices with respect to Earth heritage conservation and its integration into sustainable development strategies.