The scanty gelam forest hides unique plants

The flowers of jambu laut, a tree that grows in the gelam forest.

Patches of forest with sparse and shrubby vegetation is a feature of the coastal area around Setiu, Terengganu. They lack the thick foliage of mangroves or the rainforest. This is the little-known gelam forest, one of the rarest types of wetland in Malaysia.

Having less plant diversity than the other types of forest has earned it the name hutan miskin or poor forest. But a walk through a tract of this woodland in Kampung Bari with Dr Jamilah Mohd Salim@Halim shows otherwise. Not only does it host unique flora, it plays a key hydrological role.

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