" According to Kaur (2009) Many government and tourist agencies have adapted their organizations to offering services that are related to ecotourism activities. A high fiscal commitment is also contributed by the Ministry for its development. For instance, a total of RM1,009 billion was allocated for the development of the tourism industry during the Eighth Malaysia Plan [8 MP] (Eighth Malaysia Plan, 2001 in: Kaur, 2009).
Malaysia claims a vast range of natural assets that results in ecotourism being a "highly beneficial, sustainable and long-term form of tourism." (Kaur, 2009) This is stated to include: "mangroves, limestone caves, mountains, waterfalls, islands, wildlife and many others." (Kaur, 2009) However, there are still great challenges and concerns for the future of ecotourism because many of such sites in Malaysia are "over-used." (Kaur, 2009) the examples stated include those of: (1) Wang Kelian in Perlis (limestone, caves and forests); (2) Kenyir Catchments in Terengganu (lake, boating, trekking and fishing); (3) Pulau Kukup in Johor (mangroves, wildlife and seafood); (4) Lower Kinabatangan River in Sabah (proboscis monkeys and wildlife); and (5) Pulau Redang in Terengganu (fish, coral reefs and an attractive marine environment). (Kaur, 2009) Kaur states that one of the best examples of ecotourism practices can bee seen in the Matang Mangroves Forest in Perak but that however 'there is still a lack of best ecotourism practices displayed in any of the marine parks in Malaysia." (2009)
The tourism sector in Malaysia is stated to provide employment for many individuals employed in the "hotel, resort and transportation industries, as well as those in restaurant and other tourist-related business." (WWF Malaysia, 2005 in: Kaur, 2009) Furthermore, tourism also offers benefits to rural communities in the form of revenue as well as conservation support and environmental management that is more effective. Kaur (2009) states that ecotourism could become "central to sustainable development, offering one realistic key solution to the apparent conflict between environmental protection and economic growth." (Kaur, 2009)
Kaur (2009) reports that ecotourism in the marine parks in Malaysia were established mainly for the purpose of conducting research "on the rich biodiversity contained in the marine park waters. However, time has changed over the years and now marine parks have to maintain an uneasy balance between conservation and tourism activities. Because of the influx of tourists over the past few years the marine parks have sustained damages due to overcrowding on the beaches and resulting damage to the corals and tourist indirectly causing environmental degradation.
XI. Langkawi Geopark
The work of Ngai Weng Chan (2009) entitled: "Protecting and Conserving Our Natural Heritage: Potentials, Threats and Challenges of Langkawi Geopark Malaysia" states that Langkawi island is "one of the most beautiful islands in Malaysia. It is also geologically a very old island rich in terrestrial and marine biodiversity, with pristine forests and seas. It is also settled by local communities of farmers, fishermen and other rural inhabitants who rely on the island's natural resources for a livelihood. Langkawi was officially declared the 52nd UNESCO Geopark on 1st June 2007 after a long period of documentation. The Geopark is NOT a theme park and it covers all 99 islands in Langkawi. The Geopark's three components are conservation, tourism infrastructure development and socio-economic development." (Chan, 2009)
It is related that protection and conservation of the natural heritage of Langkawi is difficult "...despite its great potentials as a tourist destination. There are many threats such as breach of carrying capacity, environmental destruction, deforestation, pollution and depletion of natural resources for locals. However, Langkawi Geopark's greatest challenges lie somewhere between striking a balance between development and conservation while always focusing on the interests of the local communities ahead of the business sector." (Chan, 2009)
XII. Forestry Conference
In a paper presented to the 13th Malaysian Forestry Conference in 2001 it is stated Traditional use of forests for subsistence in Malaysia and other countries in the region has been well documented. Until relatively recently the level of dependence has been very high and for many people remains so. Hunting and gathering of forest products for subsistence purposes is not considered to be recreation. However, where hunting and gathering are supplementary to paid employment there will be no doubt be a recreational element, even if the primary purpose is to supplement the larder or to enrich the diet. Purely recreational hunting or fishing as in the Western concept is still relatively uncommon in the region, but may be on the increase." (Devlin and Meredith, 2001)
Devlin and Meredith go on to state that tourism was until recently "...a tour, just as the name suggests. Big planes, boats and busses moved people around for a period of days or weeks, making short stops at pre-selected sites, with over-nights in comfortable hotels. A well-informed guide would give commentaries and manage the tour. Themes of history, architecture, religion and culture, farming and life-styles, with fleeting views of natural features, were the norm. This was so-called "mass tourism." An infrastructure to cope with large numbers of visitors was indispensable." (2001) However, tourism is stated to be moving toward "destinations and products that are nature oriented or nature dependent." (Devlin and Meredith, 2001)
XIII. Ecotourism and Heritage Significance of Taman Negara
The work of Khalid, Bakar and Sulaiman (nd) entitled: "Ecotourism and Heritage Significance of Taman Negara" states that the Taman Negara National Park of Peninsular Malaysia is the largest protected area in Malaysia covering an area of 434,350 hectare of pristine tropical rain forest." Khalid, Bakar and Suliaman (nd) additionally state that Taman Negara is a protected area and because of this and the natural heritage of the forest "conflict shall arise between the need to develop an area to accommodate tourist on one hand, and the need to protect and conserve the environment on the other. If ecotourism in Taman Negara is not properly developed and managed, there shall be negative effects on the environment. In addition the various unidentified species will be vanished without being able to be discovered."
Present initiatives include: (1) ecotourism operators are attempting to carryout daily duties in a "...greener way by recycling use [of] renewable energy." (Khalid, Bakar and Suliaman, nd) Secondly, "visitors are also reminded to bring only necessary items when exploring the rainforest and dispose of rubbish appropriately. They are also required to observe all park rules to avoid damage to its biodiversity." (Khalid, Bakar and Suliaman, nd)
It is reported that encroachment of individuals into the rural areas that are undeveloped brings about environmental changes which may "alter the local ecology and impact local disease occurrence. Land clearing, new farming methods, and the building of dams and roads, are examples of human activities which have been associated with changes in local disease occurrence. (Market Watch, 2001)
Examples of such activities include clearing of land, new methods of farming as well as construction of roads and dams. (Market Watch, 2001) Deforestation is stated to have been linked to "the emergence of several new zoonotic viral pathogens, including Hendra virus, Meangle virus and a bat lyssavirus in Australia, and Nipah virus in Malaysia." (Market Watch, 2001) as humans travel into natural areas, there is usually some form of contact with wildlife and tourism increases these contact. Market Watch (2001) states that wildlife reservoirs associated with zoonotic pathogens are numerous and some examples are wild bird and Salmonella, possums and Mycobacterium bovis, and rodents and Leptospira." (Market Watch, 2001)
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