Thematic Issues
Inland waters biodiversity

Inland waters biodiversity can be categorised as peat swamp forests, freshwater swamp forest, riparian forests, rivers, ponds, and lakes. They also include streams, groundwater, springs, cave waters, floodplains, as well as bogs, marshes and swamps; which are traditionally grouped as inland wetlands. Malaysia’s estimated total wetland area excluding lakes, oxbow lakes, river systems, sandy beaches, rocky shores and coral reefs is 5.19 million hectares.

As a signatory to the RAMSAR Convention, one of Malaysia’s obligations is to designate wetlands of international significance as RAMSAR sites within the country. To date, six RAMSAR sites have been designated; which are Tasek Bera in Pahang, Pulau Kukup, Sungai Pulai and Tanjung Piai in Johor, the Kuching Wetlands National Park in Sarawak and the Lower Kinabatangan Segama Wetlands (LKSW) in Sabah. By designating these sites, the government is committed to ensure the maintenance of the ecological character of the sites.

In relation to RAMSAR at the national level, Malaysia has published a National RAMSAR Information Toolkit as a resource document for wetlands managers and planners. It provides information that would assist decision-makers in listing aspects/criteria for other potential RAMSAR sites as well as draw attention to the many important wetland sites in Malaysia.

Peat swamp forests are water logged forests and still contributes a significant portion of forest cover in Malaysia. There is an estimated 1.54 million hectares still remaining. Majority of peat swamps are found in the State of Sarawak (estimated around 70%), less than 20% in Peninsular Malaysia and the remainder in Sabah. Threats to peat swamp forest include land use change for agriculture and other developmental activities.

Malaysia continues to work with other countries and organizations in transboundary conservation efforts. Malaysia became a partner to the East Asian - Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) in November of 2012. Bako Buntal Bay, in Sarawak, was accepted as a flyway site in May 2013. Being the partner of EAAFP further signifies Malaysia’s commitment to the RAMSAR Convention.

Bako Buntal Bay, Malaysia’s first EAAFP site is an important habitat for migratory waterbirds. Thirty-two species of shorebirds comprising an estimated 20,000-25,000 individuals winter in the bay and its immediate environs.

Several globally threatened and near threatened species such as the Nordmann’s Greenshank, Asian Dowitcher and Far Eastern Curlew make their stops here. The area supports more than 10% of the global population of the Chinese Egret while the numbers of Red Knot and Great Knot are among the highest for any site in Malaysia. These recordings make Bako Buntal Bay globally significant as an important site for waterbirds. This site has a huge potential for ecotourism which can potentially generate alternative income sources for the local communities in this area while supporting conservation efforts.

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Other articles

Agricultural biodiversity

Dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity

Forest biodiversity

Island biodiversity

Marine and coastal biodiversity

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