Thursday, February 18, 2010

Langkawi Geopark

On June 1, 2007, Langkawi Island has been given a World Geopark status by UNESCO. Three of its main conservation area in Langkawi Geopark; Machincang Cambrian Geoforest Park, Kilim Karst Geoforest Park and Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest park. (Island of the Pregnant Maiden Lake). These three parks are the most popular tourism area within Langkawi Geopark.
Langkawi Geopark is made up of 99 tropical islands off the northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia covering an area of about 478 square kilometer. These rocky tropical legendary islands are rich in geodiversity, many of which have scientific value of national and regional significant. Langkawi Geopark highlights the region's most complete Palaeozoic geological history and outstanding beauty of tropical island karst landscape. The Palaeozoic rocks of Langkawi Geopark contain among others the oldest strata in the region, complete Palaeozoic succession from Cambrian to Permian, and best sedimentological and palaeontological evidences affiliating Langkawi and the surrounding region with Gondwanaland. Langkawi Geopark portrays a rich mixtures of surface water, ground water and ocean wave originated karstic landscape including some rare formation of islands and hills, ridges and pinnacles; gorges, wangs and doline lakes; caves, tunnels and their diverse cave deposit landforms; and sea-notches, sea-caves, sea-tunnels, sea-arches and sea-stacks. Langkawi Geopark geoheritage sites are mostly protected within the Malaysian holistic nature conservation concept of Geoforest Park where rock conservation is equally treated as biological conservation and other nature conservation components. Three geoforest parks of Langkawi are the Machinchang Cambrian, Kilim Karst and Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Parks, each of which highlighting its own unique geology and geological landscape. Other smaller conservation areas are the Recreational Forest and State Permanent Forest Reserves, which hosted several protected geoheritage sites and geological monuments outside the geoforest parks.

Geoheritage of Langkawi
Langkawi possesses rich geodiversity in terms of rocks, minerals, fossils, geological structures, geomorphological and landscape features, with heritage value of national and regional significant. Geoheritage of Langkawi mostly occurred within rocky coasts, cliffs, peaks and waterfalls as well as in caves. Some highly significant exposures have been classified as geoheritage sites, containing one or more geodiversities of high heritage value. There are more than 90 geoheritage sites identified throughout the Langkawi Geopark, some of which have been proposed into the National Geological Heritage Lists. Despite of its rich geodiversity, Langkawi Geopark will only highlight two major geological attractions, that are: complete Palaeozoic geological records, incorporating oldest rocks and fossils in the region, best preserved sedimentary structures and fossils, best sedimentological and palaeontological evidences for affiliation with Gondwanaland, most beautiful island karst landscape in the region featuring unique hills, ridges, islands and pinnacles, beautiful caves, tunnels and arches and the magnificent rare mangrove association with limestone bedrock.

Geoforest Park
Geoforest park is essentially chosen in area where most of the rocks are permanently or seasonally exposed, hence the coverage of the three geoforest parks in Langkawi shows that nearly 40 percent of the islands are half-barren. This also indicates why most of Langkawi geheritage sites fall within these geoforest parks. Geoforest park is a special conservation areas within PRFs with outstanding geological and biological resources where protection and wise utilization of these resources are geared towards sustainable recreation, promoting multidisciplinary research and enriching community awareness about the natural integration of various forest resources. Three geoforest parks of Langkawi are: Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest Park which highlights region's oldest sandstone that bears beautifully preserved sedimentary structures and oldest fossils of the region. Competent Machinchang Cambrian sandstone produced outstanding and beautiful landscapes of mountain peaks, cliffs, waterfalls, remnant islands and rocky beaches, while detailed sculpture on some of the rocks produced amazing tafoni and other erosional features.

Kilim Karst Geoforest Park features breathtaking landscape of nearly vertical karstic hills, ridges and islands with pinnacles of various shapes and sizes formed on thinly bedded flat to very gently dipping limestone of Setul Formation. Kilim karstic hills bear many beautiful cave, while karstic coastlines are provided with much more varied and colourful karstic features including sea notches, sea tunnels, sea caves, sea arches, sea stacks and remnant islands. The limestone of Kilim is also very rich in fossils, particularly those at Pulau Langgun. The region's highest (23m above m.s.l.) Holocene (circa 7000m.a.) sea level was also recorded within this geoforest park.

Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park exhibits karst landscapes developed mostly on marble of Chuping Formation. This geoforest park has fine cave features developed in Gua Pasir Dagang, beautiful sea-arches and caves at Pulau Lima and Pulau Dua, sea-stacks and other wave-related features. The famous Tasik Dayang Bunting (or Lake of Pregnant Maiden) is the biggest natural fresh water lake in Langkawi Islands, and is thought to be of doline origin.
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