Major Forest Types
Major forest types in Malaysia include the lowland dipterocarp forest, the hill dipterocarp forest, the upper hill dipterocarp forest, the oak-laurel forest, the montane ericaceous forest, the peat swamp forest and the mangrove forest. In addition, there also smaller areas of freshwater swamp forest, heath forest, forest on limestone and forest on quartz ridges.
The forests in Malaysia are mostly dominated by trees from the Dipterocarpaceaefamily, hence the term ‘dipterocarp forests’. The dipterocarp forest occurs on dry land from just above sea level to an altitude of about 900 metres.
Lowland Dipterocarp Forest
The lowland dipterocarp forest is one of the most complex, dense and species-rich forests in the world. On the one hand it has great value for wildlife conservation and scientific research; on the other, it is the type of forest that's under enormous threatbecause of its value for commercial timber extraction. And therein lies the dilemma.
The term tropical lowland forest is used to describe forest where there is little or no seasonal water shortage and where the climate is continuously warm and humid (humidity can reach 100% at night). Within this environment there are more than 5,000 species of tree and plant forms, as well as a diverse range of animal and insect species. Some are endangered, some are endemic, while there are others that have yet to be discovered and studied.
The tree canopy of a lowland forest has three layers. The upper layer towers at between 30 to 40 m, with occasional giants of 60 m, while the second layer is between 23 to 30 m. The lower level is made up of saplings of a number of species. The ground vegetation is often sparse and comprises mainly small trees and herbs.