By Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin
LANGKAWI, KEDAH, 16 August 2013 – Researchers are attracted to the islands of Langkawi’s chiefly because of its geological history - which is the oldest in Malaysia and links it to one of the two super continents that existed 500 million years ago.
Briefing reporters here recently, The National University of Malaysia’s (UKM) researchers Prof Dr Che Aziz Ali said Langkawi’s formation is entirely separate from the Malay peninsula and was part of Gondwana, an ancient supercontinent that broke up about 180 million years ago.
Prof Che Aziz, who is Deputy Director and Chair of the Langkawi Research Centre (PPL) Prof. Dr. Che Aziz Ali said the presence of the oldest rocks and fossils ever found in Malaysia are the best evidence linking the islands with the super continent Gondwana.
PPL – now known as the Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Campus - is part of UKM's Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development (LESTARI).
The super continent eventually split into landmasses we recognize today: Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, the Indian subcontinent as well as the Arabian Peninsula – which moved into the Northern Hemisphere.
He said rock outcrops of Langkawi Islands are among the best known in Malaysia, exhibiting various types of sedimentary rocks throughout Palaeozoic Era and granitic rocks of Late Triassic age.
The rest of Malaysia has rock formations Different from Langkawi, he explained.
The other super continent was Laurasia, which today we see in North America and Europe along with other regions in the northern peninsular.
He noted that under the National Forestry Act 1984, geoheritage resources in Langkawi Geopark are conserved as protected geosites, geological monuments, geoforest parks, and protected forest reserves.
Among important geological monuments are Pulau Ular Abrasion Platform, Pulau Singa Kechil Transitional Formation Boundary, and Pulau Anak Tikus Fossil Bed, while geoforest parks comprise Machinchang Cambrian, Kilim Karst, and Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Parks. The Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest Park portrays landscape of Cambrian sandstone with oldest rock unit and fossils in the region.
On 1st June 2007 Langkawi Geopark was declared as the 52nd member of Global Geoparks Network (GGN) assisted by UNESCO. A GeoPark is defined by UNESCO as a geographical area where geographical heritage sites are part of the holistic concept of protection and sustainable development.
The declaration was based on the presence of several geoheritage sites and geological landscapes of national and regional significance.
However, Prof Che Azizi pointed out that the geology of Langkawi is not the only attraction. Tourists are impressed by the islands’ lush vegetation.
Being an island densely populated with tropical rainforest, Langkawi has some amazing wildlife and fascinating greenery to show.
A visit to Langkawi is not complete without at least visiting Gunung Raya, The Telaga Tujuh water falls and the Sungai Kilim Nature Park.
Construction of the Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Campus began in 2009 and was completed at the end of 2011. It had given the research centre a base from which it could contribute to the sustainable development of Langkawi. It’s goal is to become a centre of excellence for research on natural resources for sustainable development of ecotourism.