Wetlands of Tasek Bera (Peninsular Malaysia)
Tasek Bera is an alluvial peat swamp ecosystem including a range of freshwater and lowland forest habitats located in the central lowlands of Peninsular Malaysia. The wetland system consists of a dendritic complex of inflowing streams and swamps whose water levels fluctuate markedly, rising by 1-5m during the monsoon periods. This dynamic flooding regime is an important underlying factor in the ecology of the wetland. The catchment area is around 61,380 ha, while the Ramsar Site of 38,446 ha includes 6,830 ha of wetland habitats supporting diverse flora and fauna including 94 fish and 10 turtle species and many globally threatened species. Its catchment has been occupied for over 600 years by the Semelai Orang Asli (aboriginal people), who traditionally practice shifting cultivation of hill rice combined with collection of forest and wetland products, although their livelihoods are changing. The site was relatively unknown until the early 1970s, when a detailed ecological study was conducted before major clearance of lowland forest took place for the establishment of rubber and oil palm plantations. During the last 40 years, the surface layer of sediments has been enriched by clay minerals in response to disturbance of the wetland environment, especially plantation development, which may eventually lead to the termination of peat accumulation processes. Tasek Bera was designated as Malaysia’s first Ramsar Site in 1994, with its management subsequently established with assistance from an international project from 1996 to 1999. While the area has remained protected, water levels have reportedly declined with more prolonged dry periods in recent years, likely attributable to the continuing development of the catchment area. In order to stabilize or reverse these trends, improved catchment management is needed based on systematic monitoring and research on the wetland’s hydrological regime and water quality.
KeywordsPeat swamp forests Semelai orang asli Sedge Pandanus Wetland fauna Oil palm plantation
- Chong G. Tasek Bera: past, present and future. In: Colloquium on lakes and reservoir management: status and issues, 2–3 August 2007, Putrajaya: NAHRIM; 2007. p35–40.Google Scholar
- Furtado JI, Mori S, editors. Tasek Bera: the ecology of a freshwater swamp. The Hague/Boston/London: Dr. W. Junk Publ; 1982.Google Scholar
- Gianno R. Semelai culture and resin technology. Connecticut Acad Arts Sci Mem. 1990;22:1–238.Google Scholar
- Giesen W. The habitats and flora of Tasek Bera, Malaysia: an evaluation of their conservation value and management requirements. Integrated management of Tasek Bera Technical Report Series. Kuala Lumpur: Wetlands International – Asia Pacific; 1998.Google Scholar
- Hood S. Semelai rituals of curing [dissertation]. Oxford: St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford; 1978. 446p.Google Scholar
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. http://www.iucnredlist.org. Accessed 10 Nov 2015.
- Joosten H, Clark D. Wise use of mires and peatlands. Background and principles including a framework for decision-making. International Mire Conservation Group and International Peat Society; 2002. Available from http://www.gret-perg.ulaval.ca/fileadmin/fichiers/fichiersGRET/pdf/Doc_generale/WUMP_Wise_Use_of_Mires_and_Peatlands_book.pdf. Accessed 10 Nov 2015.
- Mohamad S. The ethnobotany of the Semelai community at Tasek Bera, Pahang, Malaysia: an ethnographic approach for re-settlement [dissertation]. Adelaide: School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, University of Adelaide; 2010. Accessed from https://digital.library.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/handle/2440/68557. Accessed 10 Nov 2015.
- Mohd Shahwahid HO. Economics of fishing, natural product exploitation and shifting cultivation at Tasek Bera. Integrated management of Tasek Bera Technical Report Series. Kuala Lumpur: Wetlands International – Asia Pacific; 1997.Google Scholar
- Phillips S, Bustin RM. Accumulation of organic rich sediments in a dendritic fluvial/lacustrine mire system at Tasik Bera, Malaysia: implications for coal. Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver; 1995. Available from http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=2231772. Accessed 10 Nov 2015.
- Rafidah AR, Chew MY, Ummul-Nazrah AR, Kamarudin S. The flora of Tasek Bera, Pahang, Malaysia. Malay Nat J. 2010;62(3):249–306.Google Scholar
- Ramsar Convention Secretariat. Ramsar wetland information sheet for Tasek Bera. 1998. Available from http://www.ramsar.wetlands.org/Database/Searchforsites/tabid/765/Default.aspx. Accessed 15 Jan 2013.
- Ramsar Convention Secretariat. The annotated Ramsar list: Malaysia. Available from http://www.ramsar.org/cda/en/ramsar-pubs-notes-anno-malaysia/main/ramsar/1-30-168%5E16529_4000_0__. Accessed 15 Jan 2013.
- Sim CH. A field guide to the fish of Tasek Bera Ramsar site, Pahang Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Wetlands International – Malaysia Programme; 2002. 104p.Google Scholar
- Sim CH, Murugadas TL, Sundari R. A guide to the endangered and endemic flora and fauna of Tasek Bera Ramsar site, Pahang, Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Wetlands International – Malaysia Programme; 2002. 64p.Google Scholar
- Wetlands International – Asia Pacific. Tasek Bera Integrated Management Plan (1999–2004). Kuala Lumpur: Wetlands International – Asia Pacific; 1999.Google Scholar
- Wust RAJ, Bustin RM. Geological and ecological evolution of the Tasek Bera (Peninsular-Malaysia) wetland basin since the Holocene: evidences of a dynamic system from siliciclastic and organic sediments. Integrated management of Tasek Bera Technical Report Series. Kuala Lumpur: Wetlands International; 1999.Google Scholar
- Yeap CA, Zubaid A, Prentice C, Lopez A, Davison GWH. Avifauna in a peat swamp forest at Tasek Bera, Malaysia’s first Ramsar Site. In: Mansor M, Ali A, Rieley J. Ahmad AH, Mansor A, editors. Tropical peat swamps – safeguarding a global natural resource. Proceedings of the International Conference & Workshop on Tropical Peat Swamps, 1999, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. Pulau Pinang: University Sains Malaysia; 2004. p. 59–67.Google Scholar
- Zaiton S. Sites of cultural and historical interest at Tasek Bera. Integrated management of Tasek Bera Technical Report Series. Kuala Lumpur: Wetlands International – Asia Pacific; 1997.Google Scholar