Eco-Tourism in Malaysia
“Going green” is a phenomenon that has been permeating in all aspects of life – including travel. A consistent growing percentage of travelers are looking for destinations and activities that offer nature-based activities with minimum impact to the earth. Thus, ecotourism has become the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry and it is expected to grow at an annual rate of 4.3% until 2017.
Malaysia is one of those ecotourism gems, with a wealth of biodiversity and a dedicated group of ecotourism holiday makers flocking to both parts of the country for an exceptional experience with nature. Borneo usually gets all the credit when it comes to ecotourism in Malaysia, but Peninsular Malaysia is just as exciting, with places like the Cameron Highlands and Langkawi Island. However, due to its rapid development, Peninsular Malaysia has had to be extremely conscious about just how sustainable their ecotourism industry really is.
Mega-Biologically Diverse Country
Malaysia offers a wide range of natural and cultural assets that makes ecotourism a highly beneficial, sustainable and long-term form of tourism. The country, located in Southeast Asia, is one of the twelve mega-biologically diverse countries in the world. It boasts more than 15,000 species of flowering plants, 286 species of mammals, 150,000 species of invertebrates, and 4,000 species of fish, in addition to countless micro-organisms.
Covering almost 60% of its landmass, Malaysia’s ancient tropical rainforests are millions of years old and are home to an incredibly diverse array of flora and fauna. Experts believe that many animals, plants, flowers, and trees living beneath its lush canopy have yet to be discovered.
The ocean and seas surrounding Malaysia shelter various marine life that rely on the delicate balance of an undamaged ecosystem. Turtles from the other side of the world migrate thousands of miles to nest on Malaysian shores.
Listed as a World Heritage Site
Malaysia’s reputation as a premier ecotourism destination is further strengthened by the inclusion of the Gunung Mulu National Park (Sarawak) and Kinabalu Park (Sabah) in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites List. Langkawi Island, located in the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia, has also been recognized by UNESCO as a geopark, a title given to outstanding geological landscapes in the world.
Malaysian Government Promotes Sustainable Tourism
While promoting natural attractions in the country to tourists, the Malaysian Government also recognizes the importance of sustainable tourism and the balance of conservation and development. As such, the Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia, has adopted the National Ecotourism Plan (NEP) to provide policies and guidelines for the conscientious development of ecotourism.
Malaysia will continue to protect its environment, to ensure that travelers from across the world will be able to enjoy the country’s unique and natural wonders.
ECOTOURISM DESTINATIONS IN MALAYSIA
Kuala Sepetang Recreational Forest - The best managed mangrove forest in the country. An area of rich biodiversity, it shelters teeming species of trees, birds, fish and other aquatic life unique to the mangrove forest. Mangrove tree species such as the Bakau Minyak and Bakau Kurap thrive here and are commonly used to make charcoal. (Peninsular Malaysia)
Orang Utan Sanctuary – Semenggoh Wildlife Centre (Adoption Program) An Orang Utan sanctuary, this is a perfect place to catch a glimpse of these fascinating primates. Semenggoh also boasts an arboretum, a fernery, forest nursery, seed bank ethno herb botanical garden, tropical fruit orchard, an orchid garden and much more.
Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary – Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is just 40 minutes away from Sandakan, started in 1964 for rehabilitation of orphaned baby Orang Utans from logging-sites, plantations and illegal hunting, returning them to the wilds as soon as they are ready to be independent from human guardiance. There is more than 4,500 hectares of virgin jungle designated as forest reserve and sanctuary for Orang Utans.
Orang Utan Island (Bukit Merah Laketown Resort) – One of Malaysia’s most endearing mascots at the 35 acre Orang Utan Island, a bredding sanctuary cum conservation, research and education centre. Observe these primates as you walk through the 100m steel cage tunnel. Don’t miss the opportunity to interact with the star attractions, two orang-utan babies, at the end of your visit. The island is part of the Bukit Merah Laketown Resort, which also has a water and eco-park. The resort is just half an hour’s drive from Taiping. (Peninsular Malaysia)
Mount Kinabalu Park (Malaysia’s first UNESCO world Heritage Site) – Standing majestically at a heightof 4,095m, Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak in Southeast Asia. It is situated in the Kinabalu Park, a wonderland of ecological treasures covering some 754 sq km.
The diversity of plant life in Kinabalu Park ranges over four climatic zones. Over 5,000 types of flowering plants including 1,200 species of orchids, 26 species of rhodendrons, over 80 species of fig trees as well as 60 species of oak and chestnut trees are found here. About 100 species of mammals and 326 species of birds are also known to reside in the sprawling park.
Ascending and descending Mount Kinabalu’s summit takes tow to three days, depending on the weather and one’s fitness level. There are two popular trails to the peak, one from Timpihon Gate and the other from Mesilau. Climbers can ascend up to Laban Rata at an elevation of 3,273m and spend a night at the rest house before setting off to the peak early the next morning. Climbers must register at the park head office.
Royal Belum - The pristine Royal Belum is nestled within the protected Belum Valley in Gerik. New species of trees and insects have been discovered in this 117,500 hectare virgin rainforest, which is also one of the few places in Malaysia where you can see the rare Rafflesia. comprising a complex ecosystem, this state park is situated in the northern part of Lake Temengor and is a haven for mammals like the Seladang, Asian Elephant, Malaysian Tiger and the endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros as well as birds such as the hornbills. (Peninsular Malaysia)
Taman Negara National Park - was founded in 1938 and named as King George V National Park until the end of British Colonial in Federated Malaya States. Stretching over 3 states, namely Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu with total area of 4343 sq km . Located on the Titiwangsa Mountains Range, Taman Negara is one of the biggest Forest Reserve in Southeast Asia. Renowned as one of the world’s oldest and tallest Tropical Rainforest. (Peninsular Malaysia)
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