Langkawi July 28, 2011 : Tensions ran high as a four-day comprehensive evaluation of the island by two representatives of UNESCO ended today. Tourism authorities and industry members were understandably nervous as the results of UNESCO’s assessment will determine the fate of Langkawi’s Geopark status for the next four years.
Prof. Dr. Mahito Watanabe (Institute of Geology and Geoinformation, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan) and Dr. Richard Watson (Marble Arch Caves Geopark, Ireland) have been in Langkawi since 25 July doing their evaluation.
Their assessment of the Kilim Karst area included the Geoforest Park, Gua Buaya (Crocodile Cave), Anak Tikus Island, Tanjung Rhu, Matchincang Cambrian Geoforest Park, Seven Wells Waterfalls and MARDI Agrotechnology Park.
During a wrap-up dinner for all agencies involved with the assessment, LADA General Manager Dato' Azman Umar recalled the monumental task of getting Langkawi its Geopark status from UNESCO back in June 2007.
It took, he said, 11 years of continuous effort.
"However, the UNESCO Geopark status granted was not a permanent one but subject to reassessment every four years,” Dato’ Azman added. “We hope that 2011 will be a lucky year for us in renewing our Geopark status.
During his speech at the dinner, Dr Watson complimented the local authority, Pihak Berkuasa Tempatan (PBT), for their hard work in defending the Geopark status. However, he reminded the audience that Dr Watanabe and he were only given the task of writing the assessment report. As such, he could not offer any hints as to how UNESCO would eventually decide.
The dinner was held at Mutiara Burau Bay resort and was attended by Langkawi MP Datuk Paduka Abu Bakar Taib.