South-East Pahang peat swamp forest

Country/territory: Malaysia

IBA Criteria met: A1, A3 (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 325,000 ha

Protection status:

Malaysian Nature Society

Site description
(I) Physical CharacteristicsThe area consists of a huge expanse of swamp forest involving the Pahang, Pekan, Nenasi, Resak, Rompin and Endau Swamp Forest in south-eastern Pahang State stretching south from Kuantan to the Pahang-Johor border and extending some 40km inland from the coast. The terrain is generally low-lying with occasional hills (DWNP, 1987). Several rivers drain the forests such as Sungai Endau, Sungai Rompin, Sungai Pahang, Sungai Bebar and Sungai Merchong. The lower reaches of the rivers are brackish and acidic in nature in peat areas. There is extensive seasonal flooding between October-January due to the northeast monsoon (DWNP, 1987). SEPPSF complex exists as a single, nearly contagious ecological unit with mosaic of interlinked natural habitat, characterized by both the inland and coastal influenced habitat types. The forest complex in the SEP region forms a broad band stretching from Pekan town southwards following the coast down towards Kuala Rompin. The band is broadest south of Pekan, and narrows considerably past Nenasi. It is broken into three major blocks by the Sg Bebar and Sg Merchong. Within the complex, habitat diversity is very high with PSF being the most prominent ecosystem type. Within these habitat types, there exist highly unique/threatened habitats and among them, the PSF, freshwater swamp forest & heath forest types are of conservation importance.The peat swamps in the lower Pahang basin were once much more extensive, being present both north and south of the Pahang River and stretching towards Kuala Rompin. Now, almost all of the peat swamp to the north, between the river and Kuantan, and south to Kuala Rompin has been lost(II) Climatic ConditionsThe east coast is subjected to the north-east monsoon (October-January), which brings heavy rainfall often with extensive local flooding. Average annual rainfall is 2,000-3,500 mm (DWNP, 1987).

Key biodiversity
The Southeast Pahang swamp forests may be the last remaining suitable area for the Lesser Adjutant to roost and nest (Wells 1999; Howes et al 1986). However, its status and habitat in the area awaits assessment. The swamp forests also contain socio-economic and nature conservation value (Malaysian Wetland Working Group 1986). The area represents the largest intact peat swamp forest in mainland tropical Asia and is also the only significant area of peat swamp forest left intact in the peninsula (Sebastian 1998). It is among the oldest of its habitat type and consequently exhibits a highly developed peat swamp forest in Peninsular Malaysia.Lesser Fish-eagle, Grey-headed Fish-eagle, Great Hornbill

Non-bird biodiversity: A colony of Flying Foxes Pteropus vampyrus may still occur within the swamp forest in Nenasi (Zubaid Akbar et al., 2000). The colony may be one of the largest remaining in the peninsula. Durio carinatus, which is endemic to the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia can also be found in the area.(I) Globally threatened mammals (IUCN, 2002): ENDANGERED: Tiger Panthera tigris, Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Otter-Civet Cynogale bennetti; DATA DEFICIENT: Hairy-nosed Otter Lutra sumatrana, Malayan Sun Bear Helarctos malayanus(II) Globally threatened reptiles (IUCN, 2002): CRITICAL: Painted Terrapin Callagur borneoensis; VULNERABLE: Asiatic Softshell Turtle Amyda cartilaginea(III) Globally threatened plants (IUCN, 2002): VULNERABLE: Gonystylus bancanusSpecies restricted to peat-swampsCommercial timber speciesGonystylus bancanus (Ramin; restricted to peat swamps; commercial timber) - classified as VU by the World Conservation Monitoring CentreDurio carinatus (Durian paya; restricted to peat swamps; commercial timber; also an important food resource within the peat swamp habitat for a wide range of frugivores, e.g., hornbills, tigers, gibbons)Tetramerista glabra (Punah; restricted to peat swamps; commercial timber; also an important food resource within the peat swamp habitat for a wide range of frugivores)Blackwater fish specialistsFrom the preliminary analysis of the fish fauna, 70% of the blackwater fish of Peninsular Malaysia occur in SEPPSF.Frog speciesPSF restricted species: Psuedobufo subasper and Rana baramica (in the Peninsula)b. Species endemic to SEPPSFBeta wasseri (an endemic fighting fish; occurs in shallow pools within the peat swamp forest)Betta tussyae (another endemic fighting fish; occurs in shallow pools within the peat swamp forest)Parosphromenus nagyi (Gouramies; occurs in shallow pools within the peat swamp forest adjacent to rivers)c. Other Species of SignificanceGlobally significant Flat-headed cat (fish-eating cat, riverine specialist, characteristic of peat-swamps) and otter species.Globally-threatened large mammals: leopards, bears, tigers; bearded pigs.Malayan Flying Fox. Both presence and roost have been clearly documented within SEPPSF Presence of viable population of False Gharial, Tomistoma schlegelli - listed as EN by the IUCN.Presence of viable population of 8 species of turtles and terrapins - listed in the IUCN and CITES lists.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: South-East Pahang peat swamp forest. Downloaded from on 25/02/2021.