September 2, 2008

Redang’s Own Knights

KUALA TERENGGANU: Volunteers calling themselves the Redang Reef Rangers have pledged to devote their time to protect Redang island's aquatic heritage.

Particularly close to their heart are its beautiful corals.

The Terengganu Riverine and Coastal Authority (Trevicosta) will oversee the activities of the rangers, who comprise resort and dive centre operators, numbering about 150 people.

The move to band together as rangers was the brainchild of the resort operators themselves.

State Industrial, Trade and Environment Committee chairman Toh Chin Yaw, who launched the group, said the rangers would work closely with the Marine Park Department.

"The Redang Reef Rangers will act as the middlemen between the department and the local folk as well as tourists," said Toh. This was because they were better at disseminating information as they were "on the ground".

The rangers will be involved in the planning and implementation of educational programmes.

"We hope the rangers will be able to promote the importance of conserving the environment. Divers and resort operators know what is best for the environment here. This is, after all, their bread and butter and they realise that they need a sustainable environment. This why they are the best candidates for this job.

"We hope other islands in the state will do the same," Toh said.

The rangers do not have the authority to act against offenders. Instead, they will report wrongdoers to the Marine Park Department and other enforcement authorities.

Marine Park Department Enforcement and Licencing director Ab Rahim Gor Yaman said a similar team existed on Pulau Tioman.

"The team members are known as Rakan Park and have proven to be a success. They and those of their ilk are really the first line of defence."

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