Declining forest cover is mainly due to urbanisation, agricultural fires, forest conversion for plantations and other forms of agriculture. Logging is also responsible and green groups have blamed local timber companies for failing to practice sustainable forest management. Peninsular Malaysia’s primary forests are mostly gone, though some forest still exists in Taman Negara, a national park. Most of Malaysia’s remaining primary forest exists on the island of Borneo in the states of Sabah and Sarawak, but the majority of the forest area in Malaysian Borneo, especially the lowlands, has been selectively logged, resulting in reduced biodiversity. Loggers are now operating in more marginal areas on rugged mountain slopes, which increases the risk of soil erosion and mudslides. In Sabah , logging has slowed over the years after a period of rapid deforestation. Timber production appears to have shifted to Sarawak , where about half the forest cover is scheduled for logging. About eight percent of the land area in Sarawak is designated as reserves, but these protected areas are generally understaffed and threatened by illegal logging and encroachment by colonists who settle along logging roads.
Figure 2. Percentage forest loss for major countries 2000-2012. Source Butler Note that these are percentage loss figures. In terms of actual area lost, Malaysia comes ninth after countries such as Russia, Brazil, the US and Australia.
The serious Southeast Asian haze was caused by forest fires resulting from illegal slash-and-burn practices, principally on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan. The smoke produced quickly spread in the dry season. The haze first affected Indonesia from late June to the end of October, turning into an international problem in September. It was the latest occurrence of a long-term issue that occurs in varying intensity during every dry season in the region. Unhealthy Air Pollution Index readings were recorded in 24 areas in the states of Sarawak, with Selangor and Langkawi in Kedah being the worst hit by the haze. Residents with asthma and pulmonary problems were told to stay indoors until the air quality in their areas improved. Malaysia’s aviation and maritime sectors were put on high alert due to the reduced visibility caused by the haze. The education ministry stated all schools had to close if the API readings surpassed 200. On 15th September, schools in the four states of Sarawak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Malacca together with the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya were ordered to close temporarily. On 3rd October, the officials decided to cancel the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2015 due to the worsening haze. On 4th October, as haze reached unhealthy levels in many parts of the country, the government announced that all states except for Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak were to close schools again for two days. The API in Shah Alam, Selangor even hit the hazardous level of 308. Flights were also delayed and cancelled in the east coast of Sabah due to continuous haze from Kalimantan.
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What are the environmental impacts of article forest in malaysia deforestation in Malaysia
The environmental effects of deforestation and forest degradation
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After decades of unsustainable logging , which depleted timber stocks and undermined the viability of traditional forestry management, Malaysia’s forests are increasingly being converted for industrial oil palm plantations. The palm oil industry is a powerful political force in the country.
Figure 3 summarises the major land use changes in Malaysia. Land use change prior to the establishment of new oil palm plantations is shown on the left with the total annual increase in oil palm plantations at the bottom of each pie chart on the left. What happened to the land following forest conversion is shown in the middle with the annual rate of deforestation in the lower left corner. The graph on the right shows the net land use change over each five-year period.
The main environmental effects of deforestation and forest degradation include reduced biodiversity, the release of greenhouse gas emissions, forest fires, disrupted water cycles and increased soil erosion.
This article looks at the rates of current deforestation in Malaysia and to what extent this is having an environmental effect on the region. This is supplemented with relevant case study examples.
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Figure 3 suggests that the only two categories to show gains in land use have been oil palm and bare soil. All other land use types show a decline with upland forest showing the greatest losses. It should be noted that converting upland dipterocarp forest into palm oil plantations does not trap as much carbon for many years and is therefore adding to global climate change.
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Figure 3. Land use changes in Malaysia 2001 – 2010. Source Butler
Declining forest cover is mainly due to urbanisation, agricultural fires, forest conversion for plantations and other forms of agriculture. Peninsular Malaysia’s primary forests are mostly gone, though some forest still exists in Taman Negara, a national park. Most of Malaysia’s remaining primary forest exists on the island of Borneo in the states of Sabah and Sarawak, but the majority of the forest area in Malaysian Borneo, especially the lowlands, has been selectively logged, resulting in reduced biodiversity.
Figure 1. An all too common sight throughout Malaysia. Hillsides cleared of hardwood timber – teak and other dipterocarps, in preparation for the planting of palm oil trees. ©Dr Kevin Cook
Case Study: article forest in malaysia The 2015 Southeast Asian haze
Several points can be drawn from these data. The amount of upland forest lost is considerable. There has been a decline in the rate of forest loss over the two time periods. Most of the forest has been converted into palm oil plantations.
The University of Maryland study found that some 2.3 million square kilometres of forest was lost between 2000 and 2012. That area was partly offset by 800,000 sq. km of forests that regrew. Forest loss was highest in the tropics, which was the only region in the world where deforestation is increasing.
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Figure 4. A Google map image of forest fires throughout south-east Asia in September 2015.
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Hunting, habitat destruction, habitat degradation and fragmentation are the main causes behind the decline in this species which is now critically endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature . In 2010, only 59.6% of Borneo’s forests were suitable for orangutans. While much of this land is technically protected by the governments, illegal logging and uncontrolled burning are still continual threats. In addition, the smaller patches of remaining forest may be unable to sustain the groups currently living there. The combined impacts of habitat loss, habitat degradation and illegal hunting equate to an 86% population reduction between 1973 and 2025.
Malaysia has the distinction of having the highest rate of forest loss of the main countries that are reducing their forest cover. After decades of unsustainable logging , which depleted timber stocks and undermined the viability of traditional forestry management, Malaysia’s forests are increasingly being converted for industrial oil palm plantations. The palm oil industry is a powerful political force in the country.
67.6% or about 22 million hectares is forested . This is an increase of around 13 million hectares since 2005, although most of the new ‘forest’ is palm oil plantation. Of this 18.7% is classified as primary forest, the most biodiverse and carbon-dense form of forest. In addition, Malaysia had 1,807,000 ha of planted forest. Forest cover has fallen dramatically since the 1970s. The rate is accelerating faster than that of any other tropical country in the world. The FAO says that only 11.6 percent of the forests that cover Malaysia are considered pristine. Between 1990 and 2010, Malaysia lost an average of 96,000 ha or 0.43% per year. In total, between 1990 and 2010, Malaysia lost 8.6% of its forest cover, or around 1,920,000 ha.
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As Figure 2 shows, Malaysia has the distinction of having the highest rate of forest loss of the main countries that are reducing their forest cover. This is a major finding of a new survey carried out by the University of Maryland in conjunction with Google.
BBC Business South East Asia haze: What is slash-and-burn? Bell, L. Bornean orangutan declared ‘critically endangered’ as forests shrink . Mongabay. Bryan et al Extreme Differences in Forest Degradation in Borneo: Comparing Practices in Sarawak, Sabah, and Brunei . Butler, R. Tropical Rain Forests. Malaysia . Mongabay. Butler, R. Impact of deforestation: Local and National Consequences . Mongabay. The New Straits Times Standard Chartered KL Marathon cancelled due to haze. The Straits Times Selangor worst hit by haze in Malaysia; air quality unhealthy in several areas . The Straits Times Unhealthy air quality in many parts of Malaysia . The Straits Times. Sarawak worst-hit by haze in Malaysia as schools shut. Webb, T. Political posturing while Asian forests keep burning . Sustainability=Smart Business. article forest in malaysia