(UR) Borneo, Malaysia — While many countries continue to allow the mindless degradation of our oceans, Malaysia just revealed a massive, million-hectare (over 2.3 million acres) marine park, which will give hundreds of endangered species a chance for survival.

Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) was envisioned just a few years ago at a once-a-decade global forum on protecting the natural environment. The park has since been realized, and now protects the habitat for numerous coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, and valuable fishing grounds spread over 50 islands.

The million-hectare park has come a long way from humble beginnings and the intent of a few dozen people to protect marine life. Turtle Islands Park, covering 1,740-hectares in Sandakan, was once an important nesting ground for hawksbill and green turtles; but it was built in 1977, and activists realized a much wider scope of conservancy was needed. Tun Mustapha park now represents true community activism that will benefit more than 300,000 people and countless animals, vegetation, and marine creatures.

The World Wildlife Federation states that TMP is positioned “in the Coral Triangle which is a 6 million-km2 marine area that directly sustains and protects more than 120 million people in coastal communities across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.”

In the U.S., approximately ten percent of our land and oceans, combined, are considered ‘protected areas,’ with only 1 percent of our surrounding oceans falling under this type of care. This means that, unlike Malaysia’s TMP, our oceans are subject to over-fishing, plastic contamination, recreational boating, industrial chemical dumping, agricultural run-offoil spills, and other habitat-degrading activities. Sadly, a whopping 80 percent of ocean contamination comes from activities that occur on land.

There are ways to curb ocean pollution as individuals, like organizing a beach clean-up, reducing your use of non-degrading plastics, and making sure that only rain water goes down the drain. But Malaysia’s ocean park is a massive step toward protecting a most important environmental asset which cannot easily be replaced, once it is polluted.

Some 360 fish species, over 250 hard coral species, and diverse vegetation like mangroves add to the richness of this ocean space that truly deserves to be preserved. If Borneo can successfully balance the needs of a growing coastal population while still preserving the watery wild, then the world can replicate its pioneering approach to marine conservancy.

So far, it seems to be working. A research team of 30 marine scientists and volunteers found that around 57 percent of the reefs analyzed in the area were in excellent or good condition.

This article (This Gigantic New Marine Park Protects Countless Species and Spans 50 Islands) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Christina Sarich and UndergroundReporter.org. If you spot a typo, please email the error and the name of the article to undergroundreporter2016@gmail.com. Image credit: Pixabay