Sarawak River Delta seeks Unesco geopark status


KUCHING: The Sarawak River Delta is seeking recognition as the state’s first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) geopark.

The geopark will cover areas from Bau to Santubong along the Sarawak River.

“The area has been chosen to be submitted as a geopark based on many factors, including geological factors, human habitation and the existence of various cultures in the state,” said Minerals and Geoscience Department state director Dr Kamaludin Hassan yesterday at a technical talk organised by the department.

“We are at the stage of collecting data and getting input from government agencies that are related to this study, before presenting it to the United Nations for endorsement next year.”

Unesco defines a geopark as a territory encompassing one or more sites of scientific importance, not only for geological reasons but also by virtue of its archaeological, ecological and cultural value.

Meanwhile, Minerals and Geoscience Department director-general Datuk Yunus Abdul Razak said the department was also trying to establish a geopark at Mount Kinabalu.

“The first geopark in the country was Langkawi. That took scientists 12 to 15 years trying to build up the case and getting the sanction from local and state authorities.

“Under the Unesco International Network of Geoparks, a geopark is not just established and recognised but must be proven to Unesco that it involves the community and promotes sustainable development in order to maintain the status,” he explained.

There was also a need to continuously create public awareness of preservation and conservation.

“We will work closely with government agencies and even universities to maintain the area. We may even package it together with other activities such as geo-tourism or eco-tourism.

“A geopark is significant economically as people will keep coming back to the place, for example, Langkawi. The number of tourist arrivals before and after getting geopark status, is a clear indicator of the economic benefit,” said Yunus.