Selangor Journal
Evaluators were involved in a briefing session at Station S2 of the Gombak Quartz Ridge Geosite during the Gombak-Hulu Langat Geopark National Evaluation Session, on August 15, 2022. — Picture via Tourism Selangor

High hopes for state’s geosites

By Nasuha Badrul Huzaini

SHAH ALAM, Aug 17 — The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has defined a geopark as a single, unified geographical area where sites and landscapes of international significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. 

A geopark also provides a platform based on geological heritage to promote sustainable development in local communities as well as in the education, tourism and agri-food sectors. 

Considering the significant impact of a geopark on sustainable development, Selangor is striving to ensure its effort to obtain national geopark recognition for the Gombak-Hulu Langat Geopark (GHL Geopark) achieves success. 

Spanning across 112,955 hectares of land, the GHL Geopark covers large parts of the Gombak and Hulu Langat districts. It is under the purview of three local councils, namely the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council, the Selayang Municipal Council and the Kajang Municipal Council. 

The area comprises 31 geosites, six bioparks and 11 heritage and cultural sites.

‘Ninety per cent ready’

In an interview with state executive councillor for tourism and environment Hee Loy Sian, he said the process to obtain national recognition began in 2019 and is still ongoing, involving four phases. 

“The first phase was the evaluation of the specific area, whether it fits to be deemed as a geopark. We then progressed to the second phase where the state government formed the scientific and promotional committee to raise awareness on the issue. 

“Currently, we are at the third phase, where an evaluation process is due to be carried out to see if the geopark can be recognised at the national level. 

“The last phase is to get international recognition as one of Unesco’s global geoparks in 2025,” he said when met at his office recently. Hee went on to elaborate that from July 12 to 15, the GHL Geopark Management Body had conducted a mock run of its presentation for the actual evaluation, which is scheduled to take place from August 15 to 18. 

The presentation involved all committee members of the geopark as well as strategic partners and members of the geo community. 

“Based on the mock run, we are 90 per cent ready for the evaluation day and improvements will be made accordingly within three weeks. I am confident that we will be fully prepared by the time the evaluation is carried out,” he said.

From the ice age 

Currently, there are six national geoparks in Malaysia — the Jerai National Geopark, the Kinta Valley National Geopark, the Kinabalu National Geopark, the Mersing National Geopark, the Labuan National Geopark and the Sarawak Delta National Geopark. 

All of them are overseen by the National Geopark Committee that comes under the purview of the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry. 

Hee said the state government aims to make the GHL Geopark the seventh national geopark in the country and the first in Selangor. 

Commenting on the worth of the site, he said the geopark’s features hold a significant geological value that must be protected. 

“The area is dominated by granite rocks that are between 200 and 220 million years old and the rocks found in Batu Caves are estimated to be between 350 and 500 million years old from the Late Pleistocene period that is part of what we know as the ice age.

“Furthermore, one of the geosites included in the GHL Geopark, Batu Arang, is the oldest coal mine in the country. These are among the reasons why we must protect this area. 

“The effort would also strengthen the state government’s commitment to conserving the environment for the sake of future generations, thus achieving its Sustainable Development Goals,” he added.

Spillover benefits 

Aside from benefiting the state of Selangor, a national-level recognition would also bring gains to the communities living in the area. 

“For the state government, we could leverage the national status to attract sustainable and green investment to the area. This will help to create a new geo-tourism branding that will provide jobs to the locals. 

“In turn, this allows for an improvement to nature tourism that will benefit Klang Valley folks as well as visitors from elsewhere. As the soon to-be first national geopark in Selangor, the GHL Geopark will boost the area’s identity as well as Selangor’s on a global level.” he said. 

Conservation role 

Once the GHL Geopark receives national recognition, the Selangor government plans to double up on its promotional and awareness programmes on the geosites. Plans are also in place to upgrade the infrastructure surrounding the geosites and improve on their accessibility to meet international standards. 

“We also want to organise conservation programmes with our geopartners that will protect the geosites. 

“The state government will formulate a geopark management plan for each geosite to ensure that any development surrounding the area will not affect the site’s integrity in the future and also provide guidance to the local councils to oversee any such development,” he said.

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