Largest man-made lake in Southeast Asia (By: Chong Hui Jane)

  • Kenyir Lake is the biggest man-made lake in Southeast Asia. Covered by more than 340 islands spread out in water catchments area of 38000 hectares. The biggest island would be estimated as big as Singapore. And Kenyir Lake got her name from one of the river known as Kenyir River but now the river is beneath the lake when Kenyir Lake almost filled by the rainfall and surrounding water sources.
  • Kenyir Lake is a manmade dam in the interior of Terengganu, which was formed when the headwaters of the Terengganu, Lepar, Kenyir, Petang, Lawit, and many other rivers were impounded to form a vast hydroelectric dam, covering some 36,000 hectares of what was once lush lowland rainforest.
  • Today, it is the biggest dam in South East Asia. The southern zones of the lake extend into the Terengganu portion of Taman Negara. Numerous waterfalls dot the landscape, and all the “islands” (there are over 300 “islands” there) are actually hilltops, previously.
  • Kenyir’s rainforest appears to be extremely lush with very little tree fall. The one thing I noticed while in Terengganu was that it never really gets hot and the higher-than-average rainfall meant that floods occur quite frequently, especially during the monsoon season in the last quarter of the year.
  • In terms of human history, this area had been listed as a centre of civilization in the era of Neolithic. Some artifact had been uncovered by a group of archeologists in 1956 and 1970’s. Such artifacts were kitchen utensil, axes and tools dating back in Neolithic era. It is believed that during that era this place was known as one of the business activity centres in the country, with stone tools, stone knives and seashells found.
  • The normal capacity of the lake store is 13.6 billion cubic metres of water. Whereas the deepest point is 145 metres deep.
  • The infamous stark dead trees that haunt Kenyir Lake that poke out of the lake.
  • Drowned tree trunks also start to become more much more visible. Elsewhere within Kenyir Lake, many standing dead trees have been cut by underwater logging operations, and it’s only within Taman Negara borders where they are not allowed to operate. In the past, such dead standing trunks were more frequent, and it’s worth bearing in mind that these trunks have been standing for 26 years, since Kenyir Lake was formed way back in 1985! The sight of these dead trunks attest to how hard Malaysian rainforest timber really is.
  • The forests in Terengganu are somewhat different from the rainforest in other parts of Peninsular Malaysia, but that is to be expected, since soil and climatic conditions vary slightly from area to area. There seems to be a good proportion of heavy hardwood dipterocarps (like the balau group) in the Terengganu rainforests, while the canopy height (in the primary forests) lie somewhere between 30-35 meters high; however none of the trees seemed particularly big or high, with the exception of big strangler fig trees. It may be of interest to note that many areas of hilly primary forest cover remaining in Terengganu are labeled as “high quality timber” forest (the Forestry Department has a scoring system for that).
  • This waterfall is plunging straight into the lake because the dam has drowned out the landscape underneath it where it used to flow. The high water level can be seen here from the exposed soil/rock banks. There are many waterfalls at Kenyir; some small, some large.

Kenyir waterfall

Kenyir logged forest


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