Eco-tourists drawn to Sarawak by its unique flora and fauna will be able to see and study many rare species of plants in a new 206-acre Sarawak Botanical Garden, to be created in Kuching.

Announcing the project last month, Sarawak’s Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem, said the landscaped garden, using land near Jalan Astana which was formerly a police training centre, will become a Kuching landmark, a major tourist attraction and “the pride of Sarawak”.

The Sarawak Botanical Garden is one of several major initiatives supported by the federal Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry through its National Landscape Department. It is part of Malaysia’s Beautiful Garden Nation plan, which aims to transform many major urban areas by 2020.

Other examples include Bintulu’s ambitious Municipal Landscape project, which will get under way later this year. This is one of five pilot programmes, in cities across Malaysia, aimed at providing seamless, well-connected open green spaces within the urban environment.

Creating the Sarawak Botanical Garden will not be a task that can be tackled overnight, the Chief Minister admitted, as developing a comprehensive collection of the state’s vast range of indigenous plants will be a long-term exercise.

As the experience of botanical gardens in other countries showed, the project would take time – “not just a year or two” – and require passion and commitment. But he praised the Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) for its detailed Sarawak Botanical Garden Masterplan, which maps out the essential stages of the project.

Commenting on the plans for the Sarawak Botanical Garden, the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, said the federal government had allocated RM10 million towards the costs.

“We hope this botanical garden will benefit all Sarawak’s people,” he said.