WWF-Malaysia Lauds Terengganu’s Commitment toward the Protection of Setiu Wetlands
This is a major step toward safeguarding the unique ecosystems and species within Setiu Wetlands and the valuable ecosystem services they provide for the well-being of the population of Terengganu, especially the people in Setiu district, as well as the economic benefits they contribute to the state. Additionally, the gazettement of Setiu Wetlands as a state park will address the increasing pressure from changes in land use, some of which involved incompatible land conversion and development that has resulted in reduced size of the wetlands, and its consequent degradation.
Through studies, conservation involvement and engagement with local stakeholders within Setiu Wetlands over a period of more than two decades, WWF-Malaysia can attest to its importance from the ecological, social and economic perspectives. Setiu Wetlands harbours natural features comprising a diverse array of freshwater, brackish and marine ecosystems including unique habitats such as the gelam forest and a 14km lagoon stretching parallel to the coastline. It is home to one of the last viable populations of the critically threatened painted terrapins (Batagur borneoensis) and river terrapins (Batagur affinis) in the world. Its coastlines serve as key nesting site for the painted terrapins and green turtles (Chelonia mydas), and it also provides a sanctuary to wildlife including 29 species of mammals, 161 species of birds, and 36 species of reptiles and amphibians.
Livelihoods are also dependent on the resources found in Setiu Wetlands, particularly through fisheries, as reflected by the economic income derived by the locals involved in the fishing industry. Thus, gazetting the area will afford protection to one of the country’s key natural heritage while ensuring that it will remain for all to benefit from.
Recognising the importance of the area, WWF-Malaysia, jointly with the Department of Fisheries, had proposed the gazettement of Setiu Wetlands as a state park which dates back to 1996. Considering all the above, and the fact that Terengganu is the only state in the eastern region which has yet to establish a state park, it is indeed an opportune time to set up the Setiu Wetlands state park. In doing so, it would be vital, too, that the state government applies a holistic approach toward the protection of Setiu Wetlands, taking into account criteria such as habitat connectivity, incorporation of high conservation value areas as well as the interaction and impact of upstream catchment on the wetlands when determining the boundary and extent of the proposed state park.
WWF-Malaysia looks forward to the realisation of this positive conservation initiative by the Terengganu state government as this will go a long way toward conserving Terengganu’s priceless natural heritage for our benefits today and for the future generations.
Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma
For more information:
Yeoh Lin Lin, Head of Communications, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +603-78033772 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org