State govt thankful to team for making Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve dream come true

THE state government is grateful to all the parties, local as well as foreign, involved in the successful recognition of the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve by Unesco under its Man and Biosphere Programme on Sept 15, 2021.


Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said it would be a challenge for those in the Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) to continue with the collaboration with their strategic partners working for the recognition from 2016 and 2017.


Chow (fourth from left) and his wife Tan posing with (from left) Reza, Rosna, Cockrell and Cheok (right) at a dinner at Curtis Crest, The Habitat on Penang Hill.


“The real work begins now as Cheok (Penang Hill Corporation general manager Datuk Cheok Lay Lean) had said in Penang Monthly.


“I would like to record my personal and the state government’s appreciation to all our friends who have been working with Penang Hill Corporation – the various research institutes, agencies, the universities, the academia not only from Penang, but also from other parts of the world, from US, Germany, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and the rest of the country.


“A management unit will be set up to manage, grow, protect and enhance the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve, like the unit that manages the George Town World Heritage Site.


“It is our commitment to do so as this unit is mentioned in the dossier to Unesco (when applying for the recognition).


“On this small island, we’ve two Unesco recognition and this indeed makes all of us very proud,” Chow said at an informal gathering of some of the core team members to celebrate the Unesco recognition of the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve.


Time to enjoy some food.


Also present at the buffet dinner gathering were Chow’s wife Tan Lean Kee, Bukit Bendera MP Wong Hon Wai, state Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin and wife Teoh Lay Fung, Air Itam assemblyman Joseph Ng, The Habitat Group chairman and founder Datuk Harry Allyn Cockrell and his wife Datin Rosna Yusoff Cockrell and son Reza, who are both co-founders of The Habitat Group.


Other guests included The Habitat general manager Allen Tan, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu senior research fellow Prof Dr Siti Azizah Mohd Nor and USM School of Biological Science dean Prof Dr Amirul Al-Ashraf Abdullah.


Cheok says they will work very hard to keep the Unesco recognition for Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve for a long, long time to come.


Cheok, in his speech, said a formal ceremony to appreciate all the various parties would be held at a later date as they are awaiting for confirmation from the Energy and Natural Resources Minister to present the actual certificate to Chow.


He also thanked the team, especially from USM, The Habitat and other agencies, for their hard work over the four and a half years in preparing the application for Unesco’s approval.


He also thanked other supporters who contributed photographs for them to select and submit to Unesco.


“We want to keep the status (Unesco recognition) for a long, long time to come,” Cheok said.


Reza says The Habitat Group has set its sights on other parts of Malaysia to embark on projects similar to The Habitat in Penang Hill.


Reza, in his speech, said the event was also a double celebration as The Habitat turned six this year.


He said the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve was a fine achievement of the public-private-academia partnership, adding that The Habitat Group is keen on exploring other parts of Malaysia to embark on similar projects.


“It’s the passion for nature and the love for Penang, that is why Penang Hill is so special and that’s why we are here,” Reza said.


The invited guests listening to Chow delivering his speech at Curtis Crest, The Habitat, which is atop Penang Hill.


The Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve spans over an area of 12,481 hectacres, covering Penang Hill, Penang National Park, Teluk Bahang Dam, Ayer Itam Dam, six permanent forest reserves which are Bukit Kerajaan Forest Reserve, Teluk Forest Reserve, Laksamana Forest Reserve, Penara Hill Forest Reserve, Highlands Forest Reserve and Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve as well as several catchment areas.


Story by K.H. Ong

Pix by Chan Kok Kuan

Video by Alissala Thian