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The Importance of Mangrove Forests in Malaysia

Wong Shu Lee  


  July 26, 2022

UNESCO at their 38th General Conference in Paris on 6th of November 2015 proclaimed 26th of July as the International Day for the Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystem. 


What is Mangrove? 


A mangrove is a shrub or tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water. The term is also used for tropical coastal vegetation consisting of such species.  


Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees, also called halophytes, and are adapted to live in harsh coastal conditions. They contain a complex salt filtration system and a complex root system to cope with salt water immersion and wave action. They are adapted to the low-oxygen conditions of waterlogged mud but are most likely to thrive in the upper half of the intertidal zone. 


Why is Mangrove Important? 


Mangroves comprise less than 2% of the total land area in Malaysia. Mangrove ecosystems are important for the maintenance of the local coastal fishery industry in Malaysia. 


The fisheries products that are harvested from the mangrove ecosystem include many shrimp species, which are caught in the mangrove waterways or in adjacent coastal waters. Edible mud crab (Scylla serrata) and gastropods (Cerithidea spp.) are common in the mangroves while cockles (Anadara granosa) are abundant in mud flats. Together, they provide an important commercial food source. 


Under natural conditions, mangrove forests act as seaward barriers against coastal erosion and

help stabilize the coastline. The mangrove environment is also a spawning and nursery ground

for many marine shrimps and fishes. Detritus and nutrients exported out of the ecosystem

through tidal flushing form the food base for marine micro-organisms, which in turn support

the valuable estuarine and near-shore fisheries. 


Discover Mangrove Forests in Malaysia


While our mangrove forests are carefully preserved and are often visited for research and education purposes, they have also become some of the more unique tourist attractions. Locals and outsiders alike now have the opportunity to witness for themselves the one-of-a-kind scenery only mangrove forests can offer. 


Here are some mangrove forests that not only welcome visitors but also provide different activities for visitors to partake in. 


Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, Langkawi



You might go to Langkawi for the beaches and shopping sprees, but did you know that you can also go for a mangrove forest tour? Being one of Malaysia’s top tourist destinations, Langkawi’s Mangrove Forest which also goes by the name Kilim Karst Geoforest Park offers numerous activities for you to choose from, including kayaking around the forest!


There are many mangrove tour packages offered in Langkawi for you to choose from. Each will lead you on a complete journey, from discovering the magical forest in its splendor and its hidden wildlife to eagle watching, and a flavorsome lunch of fresh seafood at a local fish farm restaurant. 


Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve, Kuala Sepetang



At Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve, visitors can take a stroll inside the forest itself for free! This makes the refreshing environment the locals’ favorite sport for exercising, jogging, or just enjoying the morning breeze. To amp up your trip, you may consider a special river cruise tour and spend a night at their chalets. 



The use of mangroves in Malaysia


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