IPOH: Environmentalists and nature lovers hope that the biodiversity and fragile habitat of the Kinta Valley Geopark will not be affected by a plan to build a Dinosaur Park at the site.
“The proposed dinosaur park at Gunung Lang is located within a fragile habitat where there should be a buffer zone along the outline of the karst so that the native biodiversity is not affected,” said Sahabat Alam Malaysia field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman.
(Karst hills and limestone caves are part of the natural backdrop of the Kinta Valley.)
He cited a 2020 publication titled “Conservation of Limestone Ecosystems of Malaysia”, which stated that there should be a 250m buffer.
Meor Razak was commenting on last week’s announcement by Mayor Datuk Rumaizi Baharin that a Dinosaur Park, which would be built at the geopark site, is expected to be opened next year in conjunction with Visit Perak Year 2024.
The Ipoh mayor also said the status of the geopark would not be affected.
However, Meor Razak cautioned that attention must be given to preserving the natural features and biodiversity of the karst rather than to tourism alone.“It is important that the authorities and related parties, such as the council and the park developer, work together with environmental groups and stakeholders.
“This is a must, so that crucial matters pertaining to biodiversity are covered as well.
“The authorities are also highly recommended to gazette the karst in the geopark, together with the ponds, water bodies and other features present within and around the karst, as protected areas such as nature reserves,’’ he said.
He said there are 19 geosites within the geopark, but many of them do not have protection status as they were not declared a biodiversity reserve or sanctuary.
Ipoh City Watch president Prof Richard Ng said Ipoh residents would generally welcome any efforts to enhance tourism in the city, which could boost the local economy.
However, he noted that the Kinta Valley is famous for its geopark and that efforts are being made to get it recognised as a Unesco Global Geopark.
“As such, our main concern is that this project will become a sort of hindrance to people enjoying the concept of having a geopark as defined by Unesco, where it must be managed with a holistic concept of protection of culture, economic well-being, education and sustainable development,” he added.
He believes that the public will have no problem with the project as long as the company involved takes into consideration the concept of a geopark.
“The place, when ready, must be made accessible and affordable to all based on the Sustainable Development Goals of ‘Leaving No One Behind’ through the 3Ps,” he said, referring to People, Planet and Partnership.
Perak Heritage Society president Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Tahir questioned the necessity for such a park.
“There have been no footprints or remains of dinosaurs found in this area. Why should we have such a park?” he said.