Forest conservation in Malaysia
In Malaysia, more forest is set aside for timber production than for conservation
In Peninsular Malaysia, more forest is set aside for timber production than for conservation. Of the 5,674,128 hectares of forested areas, 56.2% or 3,185,830ha is designated as “production forest” – forest meant to be logged. “Protection forest”, set aside to safeguard water resources, biodiversity and soil, take up 31.1% or 1,763,663ha. The remaining 12.8% or 724,635ha is “stateland forest” which state governments can clear for other land use. Almost 78% of all production forest has been exploited, with some having gone through two or three cycles of logging. He says after several logging cycles, the forest shows poor structure and species composition and may not be as productive. “When you take timber out of the forest, it cannot remain the same. We will not get what the forest was formerly. The species composition will be skewed towards non-dipterocarps where the timber generally don’t sell well.” (Dipterocarp is a family of tropical hardwood trees which yield good quality timber.)
Almost 78% of all production forest has been exploited
In 1966, 70% of Malaysia was covered by lowland forest. By 1990, the area shrunk to 38% and by 2006, to only 25%. The lowland forest had to make way for rubber and oil palm plantations as well as urban settlements and industrial sites. It’s expected that in the next five to 10 years, all remaining primary production forest (12% of the total forest cover) will be logged as it is where the most valuable timber can still be found. He points out that the impact of repeated cycles of logging is still poorly understood.