ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION VALUE OF TANJUNG TUAN, THE MYRTACEAE-DOMINATED COASTAL FOREST RESERVE OF MALAYSIA
Keywords:Species composition, biomass, valuation, Tanjung Tuan Forest Reserve, Rachado, coastal myrtaceaous forest
The 122-ha lowland forest of Tanjung Tuan is a unique coastal myrtaceaous forest remnant of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Situated close to Port Dickson, the most popular beach nearest to Kuala Lumpur, the areas surrounding the forest are rapidly being converted into condominiums and resorts. A total of 0.75 ha of sampling area was selected in the reserve for basic ecological studies in which five 30 x 50 m plots were established to represent dominant habitats in different topographies of the forest. All trees in the plots with 5.0 cm dbh and above were measured and identified. A total of 834 trees belonging to 34 families, 85 genera and 125 species were recorded with
average 14.03 cm dbh and 16.82 m height. Although the most diverse family is
Fuphorbiaceae with 12 genera and 19 species, the most dominant species is Syzygium grande (Myrtaceae). The above-ground biomass of the forest reserve was estimated at 233.4 t ha-1. Among the trees in the plots, 78% represented by canopy trees (Class 4) and 88% were from Classes 3 and 4 trees. About 20% of the biomass was contributed by Myrtaceae and only 18% by the Dipterocarpaceae. Although no endemic or rare species were recorded from this site, the floristic composition of Tanjung Tuan is unique because it includes species from other forest types. Species such as Callicarpa maingayi (Verbenaceae) and Mallotus penangensis (Euphorbiaceae) are normally
recorded in lowland dipterocarp forests up to about 1000 m altitudinal range, and Breynia coronata (Euphorbiaceae) normally inhabits montane areas of about 1200 m. Some other species recorded in this area such as Gordonia singaporiana (Theaceae) and Aglaia odoratissima (Meliaceae) are not common, the latter species normally found in hill to lower montane forests far away from coastal areas. Analysis of timber stumpage value in this study indicated that this forest is comparatively poor in timber stocks for commercial exploitation and too steep for logging operations. It is strongly recommended that this forest should not be developed, and instead be conserved for its important historical value, coastal ecological functions and unique biodiversity attributes.