PETALING JAYA: Terengganu took a major step in protecting the state's natural heritage by gazetting two new state parks in the Kenyir and Setiu areas.
Mentri Besar Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar said the move will help protect vital catchment areas and ensure a sustainable supply of water for electricity and drinking.
The areas to become state parks involve 10,386 hectares at Lawit-Cenana in Kenyir and 432 hectares at the Setiu Wetlands (another 1,088 hectares will be gazetted in phase two).
"These state parks are also identified as an important refuge for flora and fauna with several threatened species," said Dr Ahmad.
These are the Asian Elephant, Malayan Tapir and the critically endangered Malayan Tiger at Kenyir and the Green Turtle and the critically endangered Painted Terrapin at the Setiu Wetlands.
Dr Ahmad said these parks lie in areas designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International.
"Scientists have recorded more than 291 bird species within its perimeters," he said in a press statement on Wednesday (Aug 15).
"In fact, an incredible nine out of the 10 species of hornbills that exist in Malaysia can be found in the Lawit-Cenana State Park alone."
Dr Ahmad Samsuri added that the move constitutes "significant progress on Terengganu's commitments regarding the protection of the state's natural heritage".
The parks will be managed by a management council, he said, which will include members from respective federal and state government agencies.
"This council will be responsible to control and manage the state parks and also to ensure that all stakeholders in this eco-tourism industry will be looked after, especially the local residents," he said.