Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Biodiversity of Pulau Pangkor

1. In May 2009 the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia & Forestry Department of Perak organised a 5-day scientific expedition to Pulau Pangkor, an island off Lumut. After one year and 2 months the participants gathered at Ipoh on 12-13 July to discuss the findings through a seminar. A total of 30 papers were presented covering forest management, water quality, flora and fauna.

2. An interesting paper was presented by En. Azid Adam of Forestry Department Pahang on the inventory of Shorea lumutensis at Sungai Pinang Permananet Forest Reserve adn Pangkor Selatan Forest Reserve. His findings immediately put Pulau Pangkor on the dipterocarp map as the density of the species in the former is 0.187/ha and in the latter 1.169/ha. A total of 276 stands of more than 10 cm DBH were mapped and measured.

3. Dr. Y F Ng informed the participants that there are two new species of thrips, one belonging to the genus Thrips and the other to the genus Siamothrips. The participant urged Dr Ng to name the latter after Pulau pangkor as it was first discovered on this island. Meanwhile Dr. C Y Choong reported the discover of the second species record for Coeliccia kimurai (Odonata) for Peninsular Malaysia.

4. Dr. Wan Julianan et al. reported Pulau Pangkor harbours ca. 52% of the mangrove flora in spite of the fact that you didn't see much of the mangroves on the shores and estuaries of the island. As for the higher plants Dr Mohd. Nizam et al. and Mrs. Ghollasimood et al. reported the ecological dynamics of the forests. In the former surveys a total of 480 stands belonging to 113 species,78 genera and 40 families were enumerated in a plot totalling 0.5 ha. In the latter study of 5 ha plot, a total of 3315 stands belonging to 211 species, 112 genera and 50 families were enumerated, showing richness and diverse flora.

5. The fauna were quite common with those of the mainland; 73 species of moths and butterflies, 53 species of birds, 13 species of spiders, 48 species of beetles, 13 species of amphibians, 25 species of reptiles were listed. However, much of the beetles, fungi and soil bacteria and actinomycetes remained unidentified to the species.

6. Pulau Pangkor has been designated as a destination for tourists. As it is the island is well-known for its white sandy beaches and hornbills which are quite tame that the tourists could easily watch. The Department of Forestry Perak had already gazetted a 10-ha HCVF, a Virgin Jungle Reserve, constructed more than 5.8 km of jungle tracks and in the offings are possible a small Botanic Garden or a State Park to value-add biodiversity for the visitors and ecotourists.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


1. From the 6th till 8th July I was invited to attend and present a paper at the 2nd International Conference organised by BioJohor. I understand that this event is organised once in two years; the first was organised in 2008, and the next one is promised in 2012. It was a 3-day conference and exhibitions by small and medium biotechnological business companies.

2, The papers presented covered biodiversity, environment, biotechnology, chemistry, policy, ethics, laws etc, almost all applied science and geared towards products and business. I found myself quite lost because I had nothing to sell and nothing that I was proud to dream to sell as a product. My science has always been non-commercial biodiversity.

3. However, what BioJohor had done should be praised for it raised many challenges to the state government the custodian of Johor bioresources, her flora and fauna and the environment. as biodiversity is a state matter. Johor should think how best and economic to pursue making some money out of her richness in biodiversity. I was informed BioJohor has been successful in producing and marketting some products from her resources such as mudballs and others.

4. I can help but thinking other states should imitate this fanfare. In future I would like to see BioKelantan, BioTerengganu, BioPahang, BioPerlis, BioKedah and other bios come forwards to organise similar activities if not for the KL-based scientists but for the local scientists, businessmen and state dignitaries to ponder. After all, once again, I dare said biodiversity is a state matter and state green assets which could be developed for biotechnology and ecotourim products at state level

5. I look forward for the next BioJohor in 2012 when Iskandar (or rather Iskandaria) becomes the futuristic city

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On the State of Taxonomy in Malaysia

1. Some years ago the taxonomists met in one of the hotels in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the fate of this old scientific discipline in Malaysia. Many well-known speakers came forward to voice their concerns for the taxonomy and biodiversity in the country. At that time we realised the discipline was not popular with the students and so much so that it halted and inhibited good science. The faculties were slowly disappeared from Universiti Malaya.

2. Then we met again at Marriott Hotel in Putrajaya, this time the meeting was sponsored by the Japanese Initiatives. Once again we discussed among other things are; the ill-funding of taxonomy and dwindling number of taxonomists and para-taxonomists, also the development of careers of many young Malaysian taxonomists. In 1991 we published the state of herbarium and thier reference collections in Malaysia and last year we intended to visit this but there was no fund. In 1998 we launched the country's Biological Diversity Policy in which we emphasised the fundamental importance of taxonomy and systematics.

3. We need a national debate and forum on this crucial issues especially on (a) training of young taxonomists, (b) funding for taxonomy research, (c) the fate of taxonomic groups such as the Insecta, (d) careers and human resources, (e) collections and documentation. We need not only a common strategy but also plan of actions. I am willing to talk to the Scientific Advisor to the government on this matter either via Academy of Sciences Malaysia or The Coulcil of National Professors.

4. Let us take this opportunity not only for taxonomy and systematics in Malaysia but also to take the lead for regional concern. This is in light of the forth coming International Conference on Flora Malesiana in Singapore in August 2010. The date-base on taxonomy and taxonomists at FRIM to my knowledge is not comprehensive and complete and there was no effort to discuss this. This is equally important as we would like to increase our profile to provide rapid response to jounalists and public at large on matters relating to taxonomy and nomenclature.

5. Presently, we have small number of taxonomists in the country and they are well-spread in universities and research institutes. For example, at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia we have En. Ahmad Damanhuri Mohamad (53), a muscologist; Dr. Haja Maideen Kadeer Maideen, a molecular pteridologist; Prof. Jumaat Adam (54), a specialist on Nepenthes and yours truly who is just 62 this year. We have some students in our school, though without funds, Ms. Ee Gaik Lee (Liverwort), Mrs. Qistina A. Latiff (Molecular pteridology), Mr. Shamsul Khamis (Lauraceae), Mr. Hussin El-Taguri (Vatica), Mr. Nasier (Madhuca), Aldrich Richard (Palaquium), Ms. Kwek Mei Juin (Rinorea), Ms. Nurulhuda Fathul (Cissus), Izlamira Roslan (Horntedtia), etc. My concern is about their future careers!