Perak gets thumbs up from environmentalist

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PETALING JAYA: An environmentalist has commended the Perak government for decisive action aimed at protecting Pulau Sembilan from those who would spoil its beauty.

Andrew Sebastian, the CEO of Ecotourism & Conservation Society Malaysia (EcoMy), welcomed the Sultan of Perak’s announcement that the state government had decided to close the island to visitors until stricter rules are drafted to protect the ecosystem and biodiversity in the area.

Sebastian told FMT there had been “irresponsible operators” who had disrespected the rules and restrictions imposed by the authorities.

He said he was glad to note that Perak had taken bold steps to conserve the island.

“It is good to see action being taken and in good time as it coincides with the Visit Perak Year,” he said.

He agreed with the sultan that nature tourism activities were being marred by over-commercialisation and he urged other state governments to follow Perak’s example.

Sebastian cited Cameron Highlands and Langkawi as “particularly sad cases” of over-commercialisation taking its toll on nature.

“Cameron Highlands’ fame and fortune as a hill station for a quiet reprieve is marred by land use change, illegal farms, silted waterways, lack of access to clean fresh water and traffic congestion,” he said.

“Meanwhile, Langkawi is heading towards being overdeveloped and unique ecosystems there are being jeopardised by mass tourism.”

He said Malaysia’s natural wealth made it easy for people to forget that its resources were limited.

“Malaysia has so much to offer, but there’s a limit to how and when we can use its resources,” he said. “We have to manage ourselves and I feel that Perak can take the lead.”

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