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Written by Joachim Willms [Managing Director]   

Sarawak imposes tougher restrictions on eco-tourism projects

MIRI: In an effort to ensure that virgin jungles in Sarawak are left undisturbed as much as possible, the state government has imposed higher levels of restrictions to limit the number of new eco-tourism resort projects statewide.

It is now ‘extremely difficult’ to secure licence from the state government to open up virgin jungles for building of tourist-resorts and hotels, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam. 

“We (state government) have received many applications for permits from people who want to open up forests for building resorts and accomodation facilities to attract tourists. 

“We have already rejected many of these applications. We don’t want to give permits for just anybody who want to set up eco-tourism projects. 

“We want to leave our forests as natural as possible. Only those who have a reputation of being able to carry out such projects with minimal disruption to the ecosystem would be consider. 

“Tougher policies are in place to ensure that the forests remain as natural as possible,” he said on Monday. 

Dr Chan, who went on a tour of the Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort 65kms south of here, said Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud in his capacity as the State Minister for Planning and Resources Management, had asked for the tougher measures because of worries that permits may fall into the hands of incompetent developers. 

Dr Chan, who is State Agriculture Modernisation Minister and State Industrial Development Minister, said it is better to limit the number of eco-tourism resorts even though this may limit tourism development. 

“We want the forests to be as natural as possible. We don’t want people to open up jungle resorts and then end up bringing the city into the jungles. 

“We need to have more forests. People are starting to miss the forests,” he said. 

Dr Chan praised the developer of the Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort for not causing too much damage to the ecosystem when carrying out the project. 

This resort uses a lot of natural products for its infrastructure facilities and the construction process does not involve clearing or destroying the natural environment as most of the natural habitat and natural biodiversity remains unharmed, he noted. 

The resort, which measures the size of 2,000 football fields combined, will be opened next year.  

It would also offer night safari tours, visits to see orchids and farm tours as part of its attractions. 

The forests in the resort is home to hornbills, wild deers, boars, monkeys and shelters a wide variety of trees, plants and flowers.


 
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