By: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Siti Suriawati Isa
YAN, (Kedah): A delegation from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) led by the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Professor Mohd Basyaruddin Abdul Rahman, held a visit to the Yan district, Kedah recently.
The delegation involved academics and Master and PhD students from several faculties and the Co-curriculum and Student Development Centre (PKPP). They are part of the main proposal committee of the UPM Research and Learning Centre at Songsong Islands.
Several meetings were held with both the government agencies and the communities in Alor Setar and Yan to present and discuss a few proposals from UPM to the relevant agencies to ensure that the proposals are in line with the planning, as well as to help all parties understand each other's requirements and needs.
The Yan District, branded as Rural Ecotourism by the Kedah government, offers various products with commercial potentials, such as tourism, agriculture, culture, science and technology.
The meetings held with both the fishing community leaders and Desa KEDA Sg. Udang leaders succeeded in uncovering the community’ needs from UPM. They hoped the development proposed by UPM would benefit the community in Yan. UPM is also expected to develop the district, especially Songsong Island, with other stakeholders.
The UPM delegation was taken on a boat ride for a visit to Songsong Islands, which consists of four uninhabited islands, namely Bidan, Bunting, Songsong, and Telur Islands. Bunting Island is a private island and inaccessible without permission.
The boat ride to Songsong Islands took about 45 minutes from the jetty. During the visit, the UPM delegation was first dropped off at Songsong and Bidan Islands and then toured Telur Island.
The meetings with the government agencies and Yan district stakeholders showed a very positive acceptance of the proposal from UPM.
A meeting was also held with the District Officer and Yang Dipertua of Yan District Council, YM Tunku Iskandar Shah Tunku Muzaffar Shah and village planning officers.
YM Tunku Iskandar offered his full support to establishing a UPM research and learning centre in Yan. He also urged UPM to become a committee member of the Jerai Geopark state, which would enable UPM to be well-informed of the latest project development.
Meanwhile, a meeting was held with the Chairman of the State Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports, Entrepreneurship Development and Cooperatives Committee, Mohd. Firdaus Ahmad. Also present at the meeting was officers from the State Economic Action Division and Kedah Tourism. In principle, Firdaus welcomes the proposal to set up a UPM research and learning centre in Yan.
Kedah State Forestry Department Director, Mohamad Abdullah, voiced his full support on UPM's intention to set up a satellite station on Bidan Island at the meeting.
The visit discovered the uniqueness of the Yan district. A wide variety of marine life is available and makes Songsong Islands a paradise for diving and snorkelling activities.
Songsong Islands also hold a high historical heritage value. Even now, traces of the historical relics can be seen on the islands in addition to flora and fauna. All of these resources need to be conserved.
However, it was quite disappointing to find that some tourists litter everywhere on the islands. The rubbish can damage the environment of the islands.
Therefore, it was suggested that a visit capacity limit should be introduced immediately in Songsong Islands to maintain the sustainability of the four islands. The number of tourists at any one time should be capped.
Nevertheless, more comprehensive research needs to be conducted to determine the actual capacity limit in Songsong Islands. Visitors also need to be instilled with the concepts of responsible tourism and voluntary tourism.
Visitors need to ensure rubbish brought to the islands is taken out for disposal on the mainland. They should also be encouraged to involve themselves in volunteering activities on the islands and around the islands' waters. This volunteer programme can also be participated by UPM students and staff to cultivate their soft skills.
The delegation from UPM also shared that at least a minimum environmentally friendly development should be introduced in Songsong Islands. In addition to Songsong Islands, several other products can be showcased as a source of economy for the local community.
Follow up visits by more UPM experts need to be carried out to refine further the developmental aspects suitable for the district with all available resources. - UPM
Date of Input: 15/06/2021 | Updated: 01/07/2021 | hairul_nizam
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