Klang Gates Quartz Ridge | WWF Malaysia

Klang Gates Quartz Ridge

The outskirts of the city of Kuala Lumpur is surrounded by many greyish outcrops that many may dismiss as mere limestone rocks. One such length of craggy rocks near Ampang is not built of limestone, but of quartz.

Built almost entirely of quartz - essentially glass crystal – there are many reasons why the Klang Gates Ridge deserves to be declared a World Heritage Site and a national monument.

A quartz vein – which is a naturally occurring thin thread of quartz running through granite or other materials – is usually only about several millimetres to several centimetres wide. A quartz dyke, such as the Klang Gates Ridge, is its bigger cousin. Indeed, the most spectacular part of the ridge is its mid-section, which stretches from Taman Melawati to the Zoo Negara in the Ampang area.

There are major quartz veins around Kuala Lumpur and Seremban because of the old Kuala Lumpur-Mersing fault zone. During the tectonic folding millions of years ago, massive buckling and faulting in the earth's crust thrust hydrothermal quartz upwards, where they then crystallised. There is another quartz ridge in Kuala Lumpur along the Kajang-Cheras road, which runs about 8 km long. But the Klang Gates Ridge is unique simply because of its sheer size.

Another reason why it is unique is that it displays four types of quartz formation. However, much of it is opaque white or tainted with grey, and lined with minute needles of clear hexagonal quartz crystals in some places.

Despite its uniqueness, it gets very little conservation attention. Campers and hikers accidentally or intentionally destroy its flora and fauna or leave their rubbish behind while collectors chip off its quartz crystal as souvenirs. But the biggest threat is urban development.

Because of its closeness to Kuala Lumpur, and increasing demand for land to house the city's growing population, the foothills at the ridge have always been under intense development pressure. Not only have clearings for agricultural settlements taken over much of its western slopes, but new residential and industrial areas are also earmarked. Much of this targeted area surrounds the National Zoo as well as the forests next to the Klang Gates Dam catchment area and the Ulu Gombak Forest Reserve.

The part of the Ridge surrounding the dam and forest reserve is rich with vegetation. Surveys indicate at least 265 plant species thrive here, with five of them endemic to the area. Hence, conservationists have reasons to fear for their future. Currently, only its inaccessibility is ensuring its survival.

Another reason why a bigger area should be gazetted as a wildlife reserve is the presence of a rare animal, the serow. A National Parks and Wildlife Department survey carried out in 1985 found the tracks of five serows, but it's anyone's guess how many exist today.

If development continues unchecked, or if there is no active and proper management of the Ridge, including the reforestation of devastated slopes, the quartz dyke may, in time, disappear. Conservationists and scientists have persistently called for an enlargement of the wildlife reserve, or for inclusion within the recently established Selangor Heritage Park.

Scientists and researchers say that the Ridge is valuable not only in terms of botanical or geological interest, but also in terms of what it can offer people. Because of its proximity to the city, it can be used for eco-tourism, education and recreation, but only if it is properly and sustainably managed to avoid further deterioration.