SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG
INITATING THE BIOBLITZ PENANG HILL, PENANG, MALAYSIA
15 April 2017
1. I would like to thank The Habitat Penang Hill and the Harry Cockrell Family for organising today’s Symposium on the study of the biodiversity at Penang Hill and for bringing together participants from around the world, from as far as away as America and Australia, to meet here in Penang today.
2. The topic for today’s gathering is, “Initiating the Bio Blitz: Canopy Science & Forest Conservation in Penang.” Conservation of Penang’s forests is something which is near and dear to the hearts of all Penang-ites and indeed, also to myself and the entire State Government.
3. The Habitat Eco-Tourism Project is built on State Land measuring approximately 10.04 acres and is situated on a site that allows us to appreciate the natural beauty of Penang Hill. Creative Quest Sdn Bhd, in response to a Request for Proposal, was awarded a long-term concession by the State Government in 2013 to build and operate a world-class eco-tourism project on Penang Hill. The entire project will cost RM35million when completed.
4. Penang Hill, which is about 700 meters above sea level, is the best place to enjoy not only the exquisite views of George Town but also the whole of Penang Island and Seberang Perai. Penang Hill is the best place to view the 130 million year old rain forest at the heart of Penang Island, which has been a protected Virgin Jungle Reserve since 1911.
5. The State Government is committed to ensuring that the environment is highly protected especially the forest reserve and water catchment areas. Unlike some states cutting down over 200,000 hectares of forests land, not a single inch of forest reserve has been touched in Penang and all water catchment areas have been gazetted. In line with this, the State Government has agreed to have Penang Hill Corporation work with The Habitat to list Penang Hill as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program.
6. Prof. Dr. Margaret D. Lowman, described as the 'Real Life Lorax' by National Geographic and "Einstein of the Tree Tops" by the Wall Street Journal, together with a team of local and foreign experts, will undertake a Biodiversity Expedition into the Penang Hill Rainforest in October this year for submission to UNESCO.
7. George Town is already listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Working towards a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve listing will further establish Penang as a world-class destination for not only advanced, high tech manufacturing and tourism, but also world class scientific research in rain forest conservation and environmentally sustainable tourism.
8. I am confident that The Habitat Penang Hill, together with Penang Hill Corporation and the Penang State Government, will be successful in this initiative to create a world class eco-tourism landmark on Penang Hill's 130 million years old rain forest. We will work hard together to land another award by UNESCO for Penang as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
9. I hereby officially launch today’s Symposium, “Initiating the Bio Blitz: Canopy Science & Forest Conservation in Penang.”
10. Thank you.