(I) Physical CharacteristicsThe Matang mangroves are a large expanse of mangrove forest (about 51 km of coastline and 13 km wide) stretching from Kuala Gula in the N to Bagan Panchor in the S. It represents the largest intact tract of mangrove forest with several semi-permanent lakes in Peninsular Malaysia and one of the last mangrove areas with all major habitats and forest types. More than 85% of the mangroves are tidal swamp being flooded almost daily to a wash only during the highest spring tides (Gan, 1995; Silvius et al., 1986). Major estuaries are Kuala Gula-Kuala Kelumpang, Kuala Selinsing-Kuala Sangga Besar, Kuala Larut-Kuala Jaha, Kuala Trong and Kuala Jarum Mas with width ranging from 2-4 km. Major rivers transecting Matang are Sungai Gula, Sungai Kelumpang, Sungai Selinsing, Sungai Sangga Besar, Sungai Sepetang, Sungai Jaha, Sungai Terung and Sungai Jarum Mas (Gan, 1995; Zul Mukhshar Bin Dato' Md. Shaari, 2002). The area is also reputed to be the best managed mangroves in the world.(II) Climatic ConditionsMatang mangroves experiences a warm humid climate with rainfall ranges from 2,540-2,794 mm in the mainland reserves and receding to 2,286-2,540 mm in the island reserves and even to 2,032-2,286 mm in the northern coastal section of Pulau Kelumpang and Pulau Gula Forest Reserves. The area experiences two monsoon, the north-east monsoon (October-March) and south-west monsoon (June-September), but do not appear to have much effect on Matang as it is shielded from the full force by Sumatra, Indonesia and Banjaran Titiwangsa in the peninsula (Gan, 1995).
The Matang Mangrove Forest Reserves is the most important staging sites for coastal migratory waterbirds and to a certain extent migrant forest birds along the W coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Over 150 species of birds have been recorded in surveys (Siti Hawa Yatim, 1995). In 1985/86, the peak count total of shorebirds numbered about 14,300 birds (Silvius et al., 1986). Current reassessment puts the peak figure at about 27,000 birds (Thompson, 1995). An estimated total of 43,000 to 85,000 individuals may make use of the area during migration (DWNP, 1987; Wells, 1972). The most important feeding and roosting areas for shorebirds are Pantai Panchor (16% of peak count), the southern mudflats of Pulau Pasir Hitam (4%), Sungai Larut estuarine mudflats (13%), Pulau Terong and Stork Lake II (19%), Pulau Kelumpang mudflats (14%), Pulau Kelumpang and Stork Lake I (12%), and Sungai Rubiah lagoon and mudflats (13%). Matang is the last remaining area in Peninsular Malaysia capable of supporting a viable breeding population of the highly threatened Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea (BirdLife International, 2001). The storks have been recorded breeding on two mangrove islands within the reserves, Pulau Kelumpang (also known as Stork Lake I, 255 ha) and Pulau Terong (Stork Lake II, 129 ha) (AWB 1989, Parish, 1985). The population was estimated at about 100 birds (DWNP, 1987) and on a steady decline. Matang is also believed to support 50% of the national population (150-200) of another threatened stork resident, the Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus. The species has also been recorded breeding in the area (Scott, 1989). The Matang mangroves, prior to 1989, supported one of the largest breeding colonies of the Black-crowned Night-herons Nycticorax nycticorax globally, with an estimated 5,000-6,000 nests (Scott, 1989). The whole population of 20,000-40,000, which used to be in Pulau Kelumpang, has moved up 20 km north (Gan, 1995). The near threatened Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus has been recorded in Matang.
Non-bird biodiversity: The Matang mangroves and mudflats are important habitats for several terrestrial and marine mammals (Sabrina M. Shariff, 1984; Siti Hawa Yatim, 1984; Jasmi et al., 1991).(I) Globally threatened mammals (IUCN, 2002): VULNERABLE: Smooth Otter Lutrogale perspicillata; NEAR THREATENED: Long-tailed Macaque Macaca fascicularis, Oriental Small-clawed Otter Amblonyx cinereus, Pangolin Manis javanica; DATA DEFICIENT: Irrawaddy Dolphin Orcaella brevirostris, Bottle-nosed Dolphin Tursiops truncatus(II) Globally threatened reptiles (IUCN, 2002): None.(III) Globally threatened plants (IUCN, 2002): VULNERABLE: Intsia bijuga
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Matang coast. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/02/2020.