Forests of the Park
Forests of Taman Warisan Negeri Selangor
The two forest formations found within the Park are lowland evergreen rain forest and lower montane rain forest.
The lowland evergreen rain forest formation includes the so- called Lowland Dipterocarp Forest (mostly taken as elevations below 300 m) and a Hill Dipterocarp Forest association at elevations of 300-750 m. These two subtypes are not always easy to distinguish. Dipterocarps refer to resin-producing trees of the Dipterocarpaceae family, frequently the tallest giants making up the main framework of these forests. (They are also the mainstay of the Southeast Asian timber industry.) The forest is dominated by dipterocarp trees such as meranti (Shorea
spp.) and keruing (Dipterocarpus
spp.). Many trees of various families have conspicuous buttresses, and big woody climbers are common.
Rattans and many other plant life forms are also found here. The mixed dipterocarp forests are the most diverse forest type in Peninsular Malaysia, with up to 250 species of trees per hectare. It is also one of the most threatened forest types in the region. The soils of the forest are generally poor in nutrients, yet the living forest attains a high biomass, and mineral nutrient cycling (the breakdown of dead matter and release and reabsorption of component nutrients by plant roots) is rapid and efficient in a natural forest.
The lower montane rain forest includes the locally recognised Upper Dipterocarp Forest at about 750-1200 m, and Oak-Laurel Forest at 1200-1500 m. Lower montane forests, particularly in the Hulu Selangor area, clothe steep slopes that are prone to landslides and erosion. The trees here are seldom big but more densely packed, and the natural community as a whole plays a critical ecological function because it protects the ultimate headwaters of many streams, so they are important water catchment areas for the rivers downstream. Re-growth of these forests is naturally very slow, due to the often thinner soils, cooler temperatures upslope that encourage peat formation and moisture condensation, and frequent water saturation of air and substrate. With increasing elevation, there is a reduction in the number of species, but a number of rare and unique species can be found only in these forests.
The Park can be looked at in three main regions:
1. The Hulu Selangor – Fraser’s Hill –Bukit Kutu region
The Hulu Selangor region leading up to the Fraser’s Hill area and the Bukit Kutu Forest Reserve, includes the species-rich mixed dipterocarp forests in the hills. The ibul (Orania sylvicola
) and hill serdang (Livistona speciosa
) palms form some of the most magnificent stands on hill ridges in this region. In the upper parts of the hill forests and the lower montane forests, the giant fishtail palm (Caryota maxima
) and the giant rattan (Plectocomia griffithii
) create impressive highlights.
A recent study of the plant life of the Fraser’s Hill area recorded some 950 species, of which 36 species are not known elsewhere. The unusual climbing bamboo Maclurochloa montana
that is known only from a few sites in Peninsular Malaysia, which includes this region of the Park.
The faunal richness in the region is portrayed through the wildlife reserves of Bukit Kutu and Bukit Fraser. Three species of gibbon (white handed, dark handed and siamang), flying lemur, slow loris and a whole suite of other Malaysian wildlife, including six species of hornbills and the Great Argus pheasant have all been documented in this region.
2. The Hulu Gombak–Kanching–Batang Kali-Genting Highlands region
The Hulu Gombak valley, scenically positioned in the shadow of Genting Highlands, has very interesting and accessible wildlife and flora that are conserved by the forests here. Some forest stands reach 45 m high, with occasional giants growing to nearly 60 m tall. The forested slopes lead up to interesting ridges that give plenty of scope for hiking and forest enjoyment.
The whole region is important for its conservation functions, protection of water resources and the Orang Asli (indigenous people) community. The Gombak Valley is probably the single most accessible site with the greatest potential for wildlife and forest interest in the entire state of Selangor. As many as 93 of some 200 mammal species found in Peninsular Malaysia have been sighted in the Hulu Gombak forests, although big mammals such as elephant are no longer encountered.
Around 250 bird species have been known for the Gombak forest, making this probably one of the most well known and accessible sites for bird watching. As many as 63 species of reptiles have also been recorded for this area. At the other end of the scale, a species of Peripatus, a kind of missing link between arthropods and annelid worms, is known only from the Gombak valley.
The University of Malaya’s long-standing Field Studies Centre, located in the valley, is the scientific and research anchor, having provided for international research in these forests for over 30 years.
The Kanching area is one of Malaysia’s oldest forest recreation areas and adjoins the Commonwealth Forest Park. The dipterocarp Hopea subalata (merawan kanching, named after the locality) grows naturally only in the Kanching Forest Reserve and is not found elsewhere.
3. The Ampang – Hulu Langat – Sungai Lalang region
The Ampang Forest Reserve is, importantly, a catchment forest. It also includes some of the most magnificent forest stands left in that locality, and also has a number of important recreation sites.
Streamside forest is particularly well developed in this region. The well-known Saraca-streams crisscrossed by Saraca and other tree roots in places, are particularly well developed. Along streamside forests, huge trees are to be found and some are decked with epiphytes and orchids. One impressive orchid found in the lowlands here is the rare Vanilla kinabaluensis
, with leaves as large as flippers and festooning huge trees just like climbing keladi (aroid) plants.
Good but vulnerable populations of the daun payung palms (Johannesteijsmannia lanceolata
and J. magnifica
, two of the rarer species, growing together with the commoner J. altifrons
) are found in this region. These palms are among the rarest in the world and global attention is focused on their conservation status because they are also among the most beautiful palms known. J. altifrons
is more widespread, being also in Sumatra and Sarawak, but the other three species are known only in Peninsular Malaysia, which makes it the only place on earth with all four species of this incredibly beautiful genus.
The existence of these and the recent discovery in 2003 of the new and rare streamside-adapted dipterocarp Vatica yeechongii
at Sungai Tekala, a well-visited forest recreation site, reflect the immense richness and uniqueness of the forests of this region.
References for Facts on the Park:
Treat Every Environment Special, Town and Country Planning Department Selangor 2004. Interim Report. The Project towards the Establishment of the Selangor State Park
Treat Every Environment Special, Town and Country Planning Department Selangor 2005. Field Investigations Report. The Project towards the Establishment of the Selangor State Park
Treat Every Environment Special, Town and Country Planning Department Selangor 2005. The Final Recommendations, and their Justifications, for the proposed Selangor State Park The Project towards the Establishment of the Selangor State Park
K.M.Wong, M. Sugumaran, D.K.P. Lee & M.S. Zahid 2010. Ecological aspects of endemic plant populations on Klang Gates Quartz Ridge, a habitat island in Peninsular Malaysia. Biodiversity & Conservation 19:435-447 [DOI 10.1007/s10531-008-9522-1]