Site Nomination for Peat Site Profiles in Southeast Asia
Protected Area
Name of Site: Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve
Country: Malaysia
GPS Point: Latitude: 2.0355 Longitude: 102.8005
Location & Access: Location: Muar, Johor
Access: Not accessible to the general public
Total Area: 3797.00 hectare(s)
Background of Site: Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve (AHFR) is the largest and last remaining peat swamp forest in the state of Johor. The AHFR is an ombrogenous peat with an average annual rainfall of 2215mm. The forest reserve is surrounded by oil palm estates and water from the forest is constantly drained to feed the plantation area.
Significant Value of Site:
- Biodiversity
- Hydrology
- Soil/Carbon

High biodiversity with the presence of many significant wildlife species. 91 species of birds, 21 species of fish and 7 species of mammals were spotted during a rapid assessment conducted by Wetlands International. Deep peat of approximately 8.5-9 m was recorded.
Designated use (status/legal classification):
- National Park/State Park

Gazetted as a State Park under the jurisdiction of the Johor Government on 28 February 2004.
Major Issues: - Lack of buffer zone between the forest reserve and surrounding oil palm estates
- Drainage of PSF by canals to feed surrounding oil palm estates
- No obvious links (natural corridors) to adjacent natural habitats
- Ex-mining site within the AHFR
- High voltage power line cutting across part of the AHFR
- Susceptibility to fire from drying of peat
- Land subsidence
- Loss of biodiversity due to habitat destruction
- Encroachment of plantation into AHFR boundary
Site Jurisdiction & Administration: The Johor State is the lead actor of the project as it concerns the management and restoration of the AHFR. Wetlands International (WI) is to provide the technical assistance in order to achieve the objectives based on the funding WI has secured.
Peatland Type: Lowland
Management activities: a) Past

b) Current
- Maintenance of drainage canals when necessary by Drainage and Irrigation Department of Johor
- Forest boundary patrolling and monitoring by Forestry Department of Johor

c) Potential
- Strategically placed dams to monitor and maintain the water level of peat soil
- Local communities engaged in patrol and monitoring of the forest reserve area
- Restoration and rehabilitation of degraded areas in the forest
- Watchtowers set up in suitable locations for forest fire monitoring and rapid response
- Integrated management between multilevel stakeholders to sustainably manage and maintain the well-being of AHFR
Facilities & Activities Available on Site: None
Institution Responsible for the Site:
Name of Organization: Wetlands International
Postal Address: 3A31, Block A, Kelana Centre Point,
Jalan SS7/19, 47301, Petaling Jaya, Selangor Malaysia
Phone: +603 7804 6770
Fax: +603 7804 6772
Nominated by:
Name: Denise Cheah
Organization: Wetlands International