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Vatica abdulrahmaniana Chua (Dipterocarpaceae)
by Siti Fariezza Bt Khairi Thaw

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Vatica abdulrahmaniana Chua (Dipterocarpaceae)

by Siti Fariezza Bt Khairi Thaw

In 1931, C.F. Symington discovered an unidentified species of Vatica, which he called Vatica sp. A. Its identity was only confirmed about eight decades later when complete specimens were collected by FRIM researchers in 2014. This species was then described and named as Vatica abdurahmaniana Chua, in honour of the former Director-General of Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia (JPSM) (2011 – 2017), Dato' Sri Dr. Hj. Abdul Rahman Bin Hj. Abdul Rahim.

Due to the large size of its leaves, the species is commonly known as Resak gajah (Symington, 2004). Gajah is the Malay word for elephant and is commonly used to describe something large. The large leaves and scaly bole are the main characters that differentiate this species from other species of Vatica. The tree can grow up to 20 m tall with a diameter of 30 cm dbh, and has no buttresses. It also has a small, non-spreading crown. Further, the prominent leaf scars and persistent axillary buds on its older twigs differentiate it from other Vatica species (Chua et al., 2015).

Vatica abdulrahmaniana is a hyper-endemic species; the population has a restricted distribution only in Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve, a hill dipterocarp forest in Perak. About 31 individuals have been recorded on the steep slope near the summit of Bukit Kledang, which is a well-known recreation area among the Kinta Valley community. Vatica abdulrahmaniana is classified as rare as it is known only from its type locality.

A breath-taking view of the Kinta Valley can be observed from the hilltop of Bukit Kledang, which is popular with hikers and joggers. The road to a telecommunications tower on the hill summit provides access to the species' habitat, making it easier for researchers to monitor the population and conduct phenological observations.

According to Chua et al. (2015), erosion of the hill slopes and accidental fires are the major threats to the population. As an effort to conserve this species, its natural habitat was designated as a High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) in 2016 whereby continuous monitoring of the area will ensure its protection from encroachment (Anon, n.d.). Wildings of the species were also collected by FRIM and JPSM for ex situ conservation.

References

  1. Chua, L.S.L., Nor-Ezzawanis, A.T., Yong, W.S.Y. & Hamidah, M. (2015). Two new species of Vatica (Dipterocarpaceae) from Peninsular Malaysia. Phytotaxa 222 (3): pp. 229-237.
  2. Kawasan Hutan Bernilai Pemeliharaan Tinggi HCVFS. Jabatan Perhutanan Negeri Perak. Retrieved June 05, 2018, from http://www.perakforestry.gov.my/index.php/mengenai-jpnpk/maklumat-mc-i/kawasan-hutan-bernilai-pemeliharaan-tinggi-hcvfs.html
  3. Symington, C.F., Barlow, H.S., Ashton, P.S. & Appanah, S. (2004). Foresters' Manual of Dipterocarps. Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) and Malayan Nature Society, Malaysia. pp. 313-315, 442, 472-473, 478-479.
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