Realising the Potential of “Green-Quarry EduTourism”

By Assoc. Prof. Ir. Ts. Dr. Mohd Hazizan bin Mohd Hashim

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FYS Quarry. Photo by: FYS Marketing Sdn Bhd Facebook

INITIATED IN 2018 as a collaboration between Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Materials and Mineral Resources Engineering and FYS Marketing, a granite quarry stone operator in Bukit Mertajam, “Green-Quarry EduTourism” takes advantage of Penang’s standing as one of the most popular tourist spots in Malaysia to promote quarries as a vibrant and unique tourism product. One might not naturally think about it this way, but conceived as an edutourism and geotourism product, quarries are places where people can observe and appreciate exposed bedrock, which being a result of economic activities, thus manifest scenic, cultural and historical value to the observant visitor.

Green-Quarry EduTourism is driven by and focuses on several key ideas and motivations: 

· Upholding the quarryman / woman as a professional and contributor to nation-building;

· Providing an educational platform for the general public, for industry and for academia, and;

· Transforming abundant unproductive spaces within safe quarry zones into a  source of income

To counteract the common notion of quarry work being dirty, dangerous and difficult (3Ds), FYS Quarry (under the management of FYS Marketing) introduced the “Green-Quarry” concept in 2016 to make quarries a Cleaner, Greener, Safer, Healthier and Happier working space. Later in 2018, the “edutourism” concept was drawn up to focus on quarries as an education and tourism destination for the public.

Green-Quarry EduTourism: A Case Study

FYS Quarry was founded by the late Foo Yen Soo in the 1960s. It engaged in surface quarrying of granite aggregates that were supplied to the local market. Over the years, housing developments in the area slowly encroached on the quarry, resulting by 2012 in numerous complaints from the local communities about dust, noise, vibration and road safety.

The local council convened a meeting between government agencies, FYS Quarry, local resident representatives and the housing developer to come up with a solution. This led the management of FYS Quarry to realise that it is in everyone’s best interest to adopt best practices that can minimise environmental pollution and improve liveability in the community.

After the meeting, intent on co-existing peacefully with the local community, FYS Quarry came up with an innovative way of integrating “manufacturing” and “tourism” into its quarry operations. This it would do by applying green technologies and environmentally-friendly practices that reduce pollution, and therewith promote quarry tourism.

The quarry site is now no longer just a place to produce aggregates but is also open to visitors. This concept of having a functioning quarry which serves simultaneously as a tourist attraction differs from the conventional rehabilitation concept where the quarry site is revitalised only after depletion or closure.

In this initiative, quarry zoning has been implemented to categorise the area into leisure zone, safe zone and danger zone. The leisure zone is the space where “Green-Quarry EduTourism” operates and is open to the public, the safe zone, in turn, is where office and administration staff work, while the danger zone is the actual operation zone where crushing, screening and other quarry work is carried out.

Within the leisure zone is a 5,000-square feet Agro Park greenhouse where various vegetables are planted using hydroponics and aquaponics. There is also a fish pond, bee farm, orchid farm, fruit farm and jogging track. Twelve LED lighting printed with the Chinese zodiacs and horoscopes on each side, as well as LED lights all around the Agro Park turn the space into a wonderful sight at night. Visitors can also enjoy mural art painted on the walls in the park.

Jogging track and the night scenery inside the Agro Park.

FYS Quarry has organised many short courses, workshops, seminars and dinner events at the leisure zone. “Now everyone can visit FYS Quarry” has become the slogan for the local community, whose members have benefitted from the tourism.

FYS Quarry believes that by deepening public understanding of the quarrying industry through educational programmes, the quarry industry and the professionalism of quarrymen can be rebranded and upgraded. For their efforts, FYS Quarry has received five awards (three National Awards and two International Awards) and gained respect in the eyes of their neighbours, the industry and the local authorities.

Visitors learning about stingless bees and hydroponics and aquaponics farming methods.

Way Forward

Visitors to the quarry have so far been attracted by the uniqueness and aesthetic appeal of the Agro Park, as well as curiosity about the life of the quarryman / woman.

The next step to be undertaken is an assessment of the initiative based on feedback from different groups – from primary school students to university students, as well as non-specific tourists.

At a later stage, the eduTourism potential of other quarries are to be identified. There is also a proposal to include a geological and rock mechanic trail inside the leisure zone to teach visitors about rock formations and rock mechanics.

The Green-Quarry EduTourism concept is relatively new; in fact, it is the first to be introduced in Malaysia, and is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals.

Note: The author would like to thank the FYS Marketing management and staff for supporting the initiative since 2018.

Assoc. Prof. Ir. Ts. Dr. Mohd Hazizan bin Mohd Hashim

is from the School of Materials and Mineral Resources Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia.