BALIK PULAU: The Federal Government will ensure that the last mangrove forest on Penang island remains protected.
Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said Balik Pulau’s mangrove forest is protected by the Forestry Department as part of the Penang National Park.
“We have allocated RM5mil to upgrade jetty facilities in Teluk Bahang and Kuala Sungai Pinang to improve access into the park.
“Besides the mangrove forest, attractions such as the meromictic lake is a must visit as there are only five in Asia and the only one in the country,” he said.
A meromictic lake has distinct layers of water of differing salinity that do not mix. Saltwater lies at the bottom while freshwater flowing out of the jungle stays on top.
Muhammad Bakhtiar said his ministry would organise more programmes to raise awareness on the importance of mangrove forests to the ecosystem.
“The best way to explore nature is by getting close such as hiking in the forest or taking a small boat to the edge of the mangrove forest,” he told reporters after greeting participants who ventured into the Penang National Park by boat via Kuala Sungai Pinang.
Covering 23sq km, it is the smallest national park in Malaysia but it offers visitors unique attractions such as a turtle sanctuary and golden beaches.
The three-hour guided tour by Tourism Malaysia was organised in conjunction with the three-day Balik Pulau Festival held from Friday until yesterday.
The festival was to highlight the little-known treasures on the rural west coast of Penang island.
Held for the first time, the festival saw locals taking part in unique contests such as cooking competitions using durian-based recipes and durian-eating contests.
Pop star Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza also gave a performance yesterday at a fundraising concert.
Those who are interested to visit the park via Kuala Sungai Pinang are required to register at the park’s office beside the Sungai Pinang fishermen’s jetty. Departure times will depend on the sea’s tides.
A 20-minute boat ride will take visitors past the 160ha mangrove forest, catching sight of a multitude of coastal wildlife and beached at Pantai Kerachut to explore the park.
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