GERIK: The 117,500ha Belum State Park near Banding here has been proclaimed the Royal Belum by the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah.
The proclamation ceremony was held on Thursday in Kuala Sungai Kejar, a pristine jungle in Tasek Temenggor.
With the proclamation, Royal Belum is slated to become a centre for bio-diversity research and education on flora and fauna, and a site for low-impact eco-tourism activities.
The Sultan was also briefed on the discovery of flora and fauna made by the Wildlife Department and a scientific expedition comprising researchers from local universities, the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society, which started on July 25 and ended on Friday.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Prof Dr Abdul Latif Mohamad, leader of the 106-member scientific expedition team, said the team had discovered 10 species of the hornbill in Belum compared to just eight in Sarawak.
He said it also discovered that the bed of Tasek Temenggor was covered with metamorphic rocks dating back 400 million years.
A consultant engaged to develop accommodation facilities there, Sazali M. Salleh of Dimension Design Architect, said there would be minimal land-levelling and tree-cutting in the proposed project.
Trees which have been felled will be reused in the construction of the chalets and we wont be using materials brought from outside, he said.
He also said the number of visitors allowed into the area would be fewer than 100 per day, and all tours would be conducted by trained guides.
After the briefing, the Sultan received a copy of the first coffee-table book on Royal Belum, authored by Wong Siew Lyn, from Kampung Belum village head Karim Mat, who was accompanied by villagers arriving on two bamboo rafts.
After the proclamation, the Sultan, accompanied by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali, released a pair of merak pongsu, the smallest peacock in the world, to commemorate the occasion.
The Greater Belum, comprising the Temenggor, Belum and Gerik virgin forests, was gazetted as permanent forest reserve in 1983.
The Royal Belum covers the northern part of Belum Forest Reserve and is separated from the Lower Belum by the East-West Highway. It also consists of part of the 180,000ha man-made Temenggor Lake, created in 1978.
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