The Penang Bukit Bendera Corporation (PBBPP) has submitted a working paper to have Bukit Bendera and other nearby areas recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve under the Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme.
The MAB is an intergovernmental scientific initiative aimed at developing a scientific foundation for improving the relationship between people and their environment.
Penang Chief Minister and Chairman of the PBBPP Chow Kon Yeow said, after the cabinet's approval and that the process of assessment by UNESCO will take around 1 year, the dossier was sent to the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris by the Ministry of energy and natural resources on 29 September 2020.
“This gazetting will strengthen education for development and conservation through in-depth scientific research work. This move will make Penang a center of global excellence in sustainability research, biological diversity, and conservation driven by local academics while creating eco-tourism potential.
"Through the education component of this project, we will increase awareness on sustainable development in our country and improve the living standards of the local community," he said in a statement here.
He said the proposed UNESCO Biosphere Reserve would cover more than 20 percent of the area throughout the island, including Bukit Bendera as the main centre followed by the Teluk Bahang National Park, Penang Botanical Gardens, six forest reserves - namely Bukit Kerajaan, Teluk Bahang, Laksamana, Penara Bukit, Highlands, and Pantai Acheh - as well as the Teluk Bahang and Ayer Hitam dams, measuring a total of 12,481 hectares.
He added that the Bukit Bendera Biosphere Reserve will be Penang's main green core for sustainable economic operation and conservation.
In the meantime, Yeoh Soon Him, the president of the State Tourism and Creative Economy Committee, said it would be UNESCO's third UNESCO recognition in Malaysia after Pahang's Lake Chini and Mount Kinabalu's Crocker Range.
"We expect the greater transformation to follow after receiving this status (from UNESCO) which will intensify efforts to preserve the unique cultural heritage and natural landscape in Penang," he said.
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