GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve will be a stepping stone for the state to embark on meaningful and sustainable development and harmonious relations between man and nature.
This, said Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow would bring the state closer towards achieving the Penang 2030 vision.
He said the state could expect renewed vigour in its efforts to preserve and conserve flora and fauna, natural greenery and cultural heritage, priceless to Penang and her people.
"We aim to make Penang a fine example for other states to emulate when it comes to conservation and sustainable economic development in Malaysia because these green practices will help improve our quality of life and provide better opportunities as we progress into a smart and green state.
"We are confident of achieving our long-term goal to boost the international stature of Penang to become a global centre for research initiatives focusing on sustainability, biodiversity and conservation, driven by local academics who are well-versed in this field," he said at a press conference on the Designation of the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve today.
Energy and Natural Resources (KeTSA) Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan announced yesterday that Penang Hill had been recognised as Malaysia's Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
The announcement was made at a meeting of the International Coordinating Council of the 33rd Session of the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme (ICC-MAB).
Takiyuddin had said that the recognition was a success for Malaysia, in general, and the Penang government, in particular, in the management of areas of biodiversity importance as well as the commitment to implement sustainable development.
Penang Hill is the third national biosphere reserve after Tasik Chini, Pahang (2009) and Banjaran Crocker, Sabah (2014) recognised under the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) by Unesco.
Elaborating, Chow said the initiative to nominate the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve (PHBR) started in 2016.
Penang Hill Corporation is the project manager and the representative of the Penang government throughout this period.
"The success of this nomination by the MAB-ICC is due to the coordinated efforts and collaboration with The Habitat Group, our learned academics from Universiti Sains Malaysia and various state and federal government agencies together with support from KeTSA.
"The state is most grateful and takes great pride in the success of this five-year endeavour. We wish to thank everyone who have contributed and lent support towards this effort, which further propelled Penang as a model state for the country," he added.
The Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve is the state's second accolade from Unesco.
The Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve, which covers a total 12,481 hectares, is a green lung for Penang and involves areas around Penang Hill, including the Penang Botanic Park, Penang National Park, six permanent forest reserves as well as two dams.
The Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve also includes three main ecosystems, namely forested, coastal and marine areas, each of which supports a diverse network of flora and fauna, including endangered mammals and migratory birds.
To date, there are 2,456 plant species, 131 fungi species, 300 arthropod species, 157 vertebrate species, 26 amphibious species, 87 reptile species, 150 bird species, 30 mammal species and five marine species in the area.
20 species of flora and 550 species of fauna in the area have been listed as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List (IUCN Red List), such as turtles, dolphins, pangolins, slow lorises and Penang Island rock gecko.