63.6% —or about 20,890,000 hectares—of Malaysia is forested. Of this, 18.3% —or roughly 3,820,000 hectares—is classified as primary forest, the most biodiverse form of forest. In more recent times the increasing demands for both wood and non-wood forest products has resulted in rapid deforestation and greater conflicts over resource use. Peninsular Malaysia however has much poorer forests and conversion of forest to permanent agriculture is the major cause of deforestation. According to the World Resources Institute, more than 80 percent of the Earth’s natural forests already have been destroyed. Among the obvious consequences of deforestation is the loss of living space. Seventy percent of the Earth’s land animals and plants reside in forests. Rain forests help generate rainfall in drought-prone countries elsewhere. Studies have shown that destruction of rain forests may have caused two decades of droughts with attendant hardship and famine. Deforestation may have catastrophic global effects as well.
Deforestation Trends and reasons:
Change in Forest Cover: Between 1990 and 2000, Malaysia lost an average of 78,500 hectares of forest per year. The amounts to an average annual deforestation rate of 0.35%. Between 2000 and 2005, the rate of forest change increased by 85.1% to 0.65% per annum. In total, between 1990 and 2005, Malaysia lost 6.6% of its forest cover, or around 1,486,000 hectares. Measuring the total rate of habitat conversion (defined as change in forest area plus change in woodland area minus net plantation expansion) for the 1990-2005 interval, Malaysia lost 5.4% of its forest and woodland habitat.
Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: -140,200 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.7%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: 85.1%
Total forest loss since 1990: -1,486,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-6.6%
Area annually affected by
Fire: 1,000 ha