KUCHING: Sarawak aims to double the size of its gazetted national parks from the present 500,000 hectares to one million hectares by 2020, said Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan.
He said the gazetted areas would comprise, among others, forests, wetlands and sandy terrains.
“The state, which is covered with more than 90 per cent greenery, is very much suitable for national park development,” he said at the state-level World Wetlands Day 2013 at Sg Lemidin, Kuching Wetlands National Park here, yesterday.
“In addition, the remaining 10 per cent is also surrounded with vast flora and fauna.”
His text-of-speech was read out by Assistant Environment Minister Datuk Len Talif Salleh. Also present were Pantai Damai assemblyman Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, Forest Department director Datu Ali Yusop and deputy director Sapuan Ahmad.
Awang Tengah, who is also Public Utilities and Industrial Development Minister, stressed that national parks in the state were administered in a very systematic manner and in accordance with international procedures.
“We developed our national parks in a smart manner despite many impressions that the methods used by the government would only disrupt the environment and nature. Such point of view is inaccurate.”
At the same time, he said he regretted the attitude of certain quarters for disposing wastes into the river indiscriminately.
“Many people are still taking this matter lightly. Do they not realise that 97 per cent of our raw water supply is obtained through water that flows from the surface to wetland areas such as river networks and lakes?” he asked.
“If rivers remain polluted, inadvertently this will deteriorate the quality of the water and affect aquatic life.”
The celebration yesterday was held to increase awareness on the need to conserve wetlands due to its significant role as a sustainable water source.