Managing the National Heritage of Bebar River Peat Swamp Forest: The Malaysia Experience

Dr Ekhwan Toriman
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The Bebar River Peat Swamp Forest (BRPSF), The Peninsular Malaysia’s largest forested wetland type in terms of area covered, are significant in terms of their many environmental sustainability functions and services. Located at the South-East Pahang, the 200, 000 ha RBPSF, in particular has been the subject of conservation interest both at the national and global levels due to its biodiversity richness. Nationally, the RBPSF plays an important role as the main artery of peat swamp heritage which forms the core area of the South-East Pahang, while internationally, the RBPSF is one of the major selected sites for United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) to demonstrate the conservation and sustainable use of peat swamp forest and associated wetland ecosystems. This paper concentrates some of the significant functions of BRPSF in hydrological and sedimentological perspectives. The paper also suggests some economic potential that can be developed without disturbing their sustainability. To study the parameters, water and flow characteristics were measured using specific instruments and methods. Selected points along the river were measured and surveyed to obtain the relationships between the sediment yield (kg/km2/yr-1) and river discharge (m3/s) to their environmental sustainability in general. To relate with economic potentials, direct information from Biodiversity Expedition Group were obtained. This “first hand” information provides sufficient scientific evidence which later was used to manage this national heritage of RBPSF.

The results indicate that BRPSF plays and important role in the hydrological functioning of the ecosystem including flood mitigation, providing natural sediment trap and to serve natural habitats to unique flora-fauna and supporting the livelihood of the indigenous communities. Annually, the total discharge (Q) was estimated at 1.8 x 108m3 with Q varies between 2.72 to 15.29 m3/s. During wet seasons, the swamp provide natural place to reduce local flood probability. Meanwhile, sediment yield was calculated as 36.7 kg/km2/yr-1 for River Bebar and 158.4 kg/km2/yr-1 for Serai River- one of the major tributary. This trend found to be low compared with other forested catchments indicating proper management carried out by government agencies (FRIM, FD and NRE) with supporting with Malaysian Nature Society (MNS). The BRPSF sustainability model can be implemented to the other swamp forests to enhance and sustain the biodiversity of peat swamp forest in Malaysia particularly and other countries in general.

Keywords: Peat Swamp Forest, River Bebar, Hydrology, Sedimentology, Economic Potential
Stream: Environmental Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Managing the National Heritage of Bebar River Peat Swamp Forest

Dr Ekhwan Toriman

Senior Lecturer, Development, Environment & Tourism Research Group
School of Social, Development & Enviornmental Studies, University Kebangsaan Malaysia


Dr. Mohd Ekhwan is currently a senior lecturer in the School of Social, Development & Environmental Studies. His specialisation is on hydrology fluvial and Geographical Information System (GIS) application. Presently, he worked with UNDP on River Bebar Conservation Programme. He is also active on consultation works with more than 11 years experience on hydrology modelling, flood control and catchment management. His latest book is "Urban Rivers and Waterfront Development in Malaysia" published by University Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Ref: S06P0230