LANGKAWI: Environmentalists are concerned over a road project, currently being built along Pantai Kok's rainforest-covered hill which they said is "sacrificing" century-old trees as well as marine lives along the island's shores.
Naturalist Irshad Mobarak said the road project is actually along a forest on a limestone hill which is also close to a mangrove forest and a popular tourist spot.
In an interview with The Mole Irshad said: “Langkawi has many rare species which is only seen in this part of the world and it will go extinct if the island is overdeveloped.”
“The island's biodiversity is amazing and eco-tourism is what draws tourists to the island. Islands work by different rules, if a habitat is lost, species will decline, “ he said.
Meanwhile, a source who lives and work on the island said the estimated cost of the road project is RM22 million and stretches about 1.2km long.
The project which started about a month ago is said to be built as a short cut to enable tourist to get to a nearby resort.
The source also said there were no proper signage’s to indicate that the area was under construction.
Irshad who is quite popular in Langkawi, having lived there for 26 years and championing the preservation of the island’s beauty and natural habitat, said the rainforest is vital in mitigating air pollution.
A member of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), Irshad said developers should consider the environment and its natural aesthetics when undertaking their projects.
“When building roads, they must consider the wildlife, plants and marine lives, such as under planning for fisheries,’’ he said.
He also said local authorities must have better legislation and tighter enforcement for illegal loggings and poaching.
Another concerned environmentalist who wished to remain anonymous said sand from the road works which is being built, if unattended, could flow into the sea and badly affect marine lives.
“When the sand from the road works flows into the sea, the coral life will be affected.”
"Why do people come to Langkawi? People come here to unwind and enjoy its nature. Ecotourism is the fastest growing industry on the island. We are losing species just as we sit here."
The environmentalist who is passionate in preserving the island's marine life said while more stringent rules could be implemented, rules were still broken.
“People break the rules...competition between businesses will see bad practices in development projects. In terms of rules, it works well overseas. It can be done through many ways including through significant fines.’’
“Development is not necessary a bad thing, and I am not anti-development but I am definitely anti-ignorance. Everyone including the local authorities should be taught on preserving nature at all cost for the future generations," he added.
AL: What has state governmnet & LADA is doing???