The 5 days event of Langkawi Geopark Carnival 2011 was celebrated with joy and happiness throughout the island. The event that started from 31st of May was filled with educational and fun activities.
The opening of the carnival was held at Tuba Island where there were about 2000 people from the Tuba Island and 200 people from the main island of Langkawi having a feast under the program called 'Feast of The People". People from both islands cooperated in preparing the food and the place.
"Thanks to God, we have about 400 people that work together. Today feast organized by LADA was really successful with the support from the people of the main island of Langkawi and the people from Tuba Island," said Abdul Rani Awang, the Chairman of JKKP Tuba Barat, Tuba Island.
The second day of the carnival saw about 100 local people participated in a free Guided Tour where the participants were given a tour to two main Geoforest Park in Langkawi which were Kilim Karst Geoforest Park and Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park.
"By having this kind of Guided Tour, we provided tourist guide along the journey where the local are introduced what Geopark is all about," said Ikhwan Mohd Said, the Assistant Manager of Information at Geopark Department.
"The Geopark Department really concern to share the knowledge to the local people and we hope that this kind of exposure will help the local people to get more information and at the same time they will start to promote among their friends or among their relative that come to Langkawi," said Othman Ayeb, one of the Langkawi nature guide with more than 20 years of experience. He is also a snake expert and he was featured as a snake handler in November 2001 edition of National Geographic magazine.
Othman believed that the exposure about Geopark to the local people are very important for the future of Langkawi Geopark.
"We hope that our future generations of age 10 to 12 already can talk about Geopark. They are not going to say, 'that is Machincang' but they're going to say 'that is Machincang Cambrian which has limestone formation during the Ordovician'," he added.
The Guided Tour helps the local to get to know and appreciate the beautiful nature of Langkawi. The theme for this year's carnival is 'Savoring The Nature, Nurturing The Culture'.
"I hope the people here will keep the nature of Langkawi and being polite to tourists. Here, we promote Langkawi as ecotourism, so the people here must keep the nature of Langkawi so that they don't simply cut the trees and spoil the water," said Dato' Azman Umar, the General Manager of LADA.
"Geopark is not only about rock but it is more about people. If our younger generation understand about our culture and our ancestor, I think they are the one that will start to protect all these things, forests, rock and nature, for their future generation," said Othman.
According to Ikhwan, all the activities planned in the carnival have its own message that the organizer wanted to convey to people.
"As an example, the Geohunt on the third day of the carnival, where we tried to promote certain locations in Langkawi so that people will get familiar with the places in Langkawi," he said.
According to Mohamad Zuhri Abd Rashid, the Assistant Manager of Conservative Unit at Geopark Department, the Geohunt applied the concept of treasure hunt where participants had to answer the questions that were based on the locations in Langkawi.
"We have the element of Geopark where participants have to answer the questions related to Geopark. As an example, we are highlighting the Machincang location where we have the oldest rock in Southeast Asia which is 550 years old," said Zuhri.
The activities on the fourth and the last day concentrated mostly at Dataran Lang where thousands of people came to see and take part in the activities. There were more than 15 activities took place during the carnival. Among the activities were futsal tournament, beach volleyball, fruit carving, cultural performances, sales, bike fest and competition, exhibition and many more.
The two days exhibition gave a chance for the people to get to know more about Geopark and the agencies involved.
"This carnival indirectly bring the community closer to understand the role played by Minerals and Geoscience Department (JMG) and its close relation with Langkawi Geopark," said Muhammad Mustadza Mazni, a Geology Officer at Minerals and Geoscience Department (JMG) for Kedah, Perlis and Penang.
"We work closely with LADA to recognize the locations that have potential to become geological heritage for Geopark development and we monitor and conserve the existed Geopark sites for the future generation," he added.
Every four years UNESCO will reevaluate the status of its Global Geopark. This year, the time has come for UNESCO to reevaluate the status of Langkawi Geopark. Langkawi was accorded the Global Geopark status by UNESCO on June 1st, 2007 for its significant geoheritage feature consisting of stunning landscapes, majestic limestone karsts, mysterious caves, sea-arches and stacks, glacial dropstones and fossils.
"With the activities and participation in this carnival, we can show to UNESCO that Langkawi Geopark programs are supported by the people in Langkawi," said Dato' Azman.
The UNESCO Global Geopark status puts Langkawi in good standing in respect of nature conservation and sustainable development, outstanding geoheritage, biodiversity as well as rich culture.
"I'm glad that Langkawi has the status of Geopark. Our island is known worldwide even though our island is small. I'm proud to be born in Langkawi," said Kalai Arasi, one of the visitors from Langkawi.
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