KUALA TERENGGANU, 17 JUNE 2014: The East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) today presented a paper on sustainable economic growth in East Coast Economic Region (ECER) at the National Seminar On Heath Ecosystem 2014  officiated by the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, YABhg. Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi here in Kuala Terengganu.
Hosted by Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT), the seminar brings together researchers, scientists, Non-Government Organisations (NGO), policy makers, industrialists and private business owners from Malaysia to exchange research results and integrate key topics in many areas of heath ecosystem and promote scientific communication and collaboration.
ECER is rich with natural assets such as  tropical rainforests, rivers, lakes, wetlands and thriving marine ecosystems, and ECERDC as the statutory body responsible in spearheading the development projects and programmes in the Region is guided by an environmental policy that prioritises sustainable development, said its Chief Executive Officer, YBhg. Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John in a statement.
“Leveraging on these natural assets, ECERDC is set to accelerate ECER’s economic growth in a viable, equitable and sustainable manner. ECER’s Environmental Strategy becomes the underlying principle in implementing the projects in the Region, to ensure minimal or zero negative impact to its natural enviroment,” said Dato’ Issace.
As part of its development strategy, conserving the environment and preserving the culture in ECER remains one of ECERDC’s key priorities.
“The conservation and preservation of the environment is an integral component of the ECER Vision and is firmly embedded in its mission statement, which is, to improve the standard and sustainability of quality of life in the region,” Dato’ Issace added.
At today’s seminar, ECERDC highlighted Setiu Wetlands as one of the key areas identified for preservation and conservation in ECER. Setiu Wetlands  contains the largest heath forest in Malaysia and is recognized as one of the most important wetland systems in the Peninsular Malaysia.
Comprising part of the Setiu River Basin and the larger Setiu-Chalok-Bari-Merang basin wetlands, the wetlands are a crucial source of fresh water and other natural resources for local communities and support globally significant biodiversity values. It also plays a significant role in flood mitigation.
The 1,350 ha in Setiu Wetlands has been identified to be gazetted as a Permanent Forest Reserve, a step towards making the wetlands an official State Park. This proposal is supported by the state and federal government, NGO such as Yayasan Diraja Sultan Mizan and World Wide Fund for Nature and public institutions such as Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, for a holistic and sustainable environmental management.
Earlier in April this year, ECERDC handed over five landmark Environmental Management Plans for the sustainable development of the national and state parks in the ECER to the respectiveState Governments of Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan and Johor, as part of its its commitment towards conservation and preservation efforts in the Region.
The plans were handed over by the Prime Minister of Malaysia Y.A.B. Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, who is also ECERDC Chairman, and will be a reference point for the future conservation, preservation and sustainable development of Taman Negara which straddles across Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan; Taman Negara Endau-Rompin which spans across Pahang and Johor, Tasik Chini in Pahang which is also Malaysia’s first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Setiu Wetlands in Terengganu, and Lojing Highlands in Kelantan respectively.