PUTRAJAYA: The Cabinet is of the view that Pulau Kukup in Johor should retain its status as a national park to ensure it remains the second largest uninhabited mangrove island in the world and the only one in Johor waters, said Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar.
He said Pulau Kukup, which is in the Pontian district, had a total area of 647ha and was surrounded by 800ha of swampland.
He added that the island, which also has a rare mangrove ecosystem that is threatened by extinction, was an invaluable biodiversity treasure to the country and especially to Johor.
It has been identified as a stopover for migratory birds, breeding and protection area for threatened wildlife like storks, Chinese egrets and mangrove leeches as well as fisheries and aquaculture resources of the country, he said.
“The Cabinet met yesterday and was of the view that its status should be maintained.
“The people generally agree that the status should be maintained so that the Pulau Kukup’s ecosystem continues to be preserved as an internationally important area for the benefit of present and future generations.
“Any failure in managing the area prudently can result in the loss of priceless biodiversity resources as well as undermine efforts to get Mersing recognised as a National Geopark,” he said in a statement here today.
He said this in reference to the Johor state assembly passing a motion on Dec 6 allowing the state executive council to review the status of Pulau Kukup as a national park.
Xavier said Pulau Kukup had also been declared an area of international interest under the Ramsar Convention.
He said there were about 18 native mangrove species in the Pulau Kukup Mangrove Forest, which was a lot compared to other mangroves in Peninsular Malaysia.
For example, the 40,000ha Matang Mangrove Forest in Perak has only 21 native mangrove species.
“This comparison shows the importance of the biodiversity of Pulau Kukup in the region.
“Changing the area’s status will surely affect its recognition as an area of international importance as well as undermine the country’s reputation in biodiversity conservation,” he said.