MIRI: Nature lovers in Miri are objecting to a proposal to turn a hornbill haven, located next to the South China Sea here, into a tourist resort.
The Piasau Nature Reserve, which encompasses the Piasau Camp, about 6km north of the city centre, should never be developed into a resort as this would be detrimental to the rare birds and animals there, said Datuk Sebastian Ting.
“There is talk that the Piasau reserve and the area around it would be turned into a tourist resort,” the chairman of the Piasau Nature Park Society, an NGO promoting the preservation of the place, said during a pre-Chinese New Year gathering here on Saturday with the society’s supporters.
Ting, who is also the SUPP secretary-general, said Piasau should retain its “natural charm”.
“Since it was declared as a nature reserve by Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem last May, the hornbills there had thrived, with several adult hornbills nesting,” he said.
“Last September, certain quarters tried to initiate some development in the reserve by erecting fencing for a construction project.
“However, the people of Miri protested and acted fast to stop further work,” he added.
The area, especially at the Piasau Camp, used to house expatriates working in the oil and gas sector. The area is unique in that it is the only place in urban Sarawak, if not the whole of Malaysia, where hornbills can be found living within city limits.
Miri residents and SUPP politicians, led by Ting, began lobbying for Piasau Camp to be a totally-protected area in 2013 after the discovery of several hornbill colonies.
It was the first time in Sarawak that a residential area had been converted into a nature reserve because of the presence of hornbills.