KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has set its sights on getting Mount Kinabalu and its surrounding districts listed in Unesco Global Geoparks by 2020.
Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew said Sabah Parks was on track to getting the geopark recognised as a National Geopark (Malaysia) before it could be declared a Unesco Global Geopark.
Dubbed “Aspiring Kinabalu Geopark”, the proposed Kinabalu geopark covers the entire Kinabalu Park and either as a whole or parts of the Ranau, Kota Belud and Kota Marudu districts.
Kinabalu Park itself is a Unesco World Heritage Site and has an area of 75,370ha.
Liew, who is State Tourism, Culture and Tourism Minister, said after a meeting with officials from the Sabah Parks, Department of Minerals and Geosciences Malaysia, Sabah, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Universiti Malaysia Sabah here that the proposal was a new concept of tourism and that her ministry would prepare a Cabinet paper for consideration and approval.
“We want to conserve Kinabalu Park for the present and future generations not only for its ecological functions, but also for education, recreation and economic development purposes,” she said.
She added that a Kinabalu Unesco Global Geopark Site would put Sabah on the world map and boost tourism growth, as well as bring socio-economic benefits to local communities.
UKM Prof Emeritus Dr Ibrahim Komoo, a geologist who was responsible for introducing the Unesco Global Geopark label to Malaysia, said a Unesco Global Geopark has three main elements.
“Firstly, it is a single and unified geographical area. Secondly, it has sites and landscapes of international geological significance.
“Thirdly, it must be managed in a holistic manner by offering protection, education and sustainable development.
“Geotourism does not mean geology alone.
“Here, we look at geological, biological and cultural aspects together so that we can provide information to the tourists and give them a complete picture of the history of the geopark,” he added.
Dr Ibrahim said the Tawau Hills Park also had the right attributes to be declared a Unesco Global Geopark.
The Langkawi Unesco Global Geopark is the first in Malaysia and was set up in 2007.