Forest Life


The overall area of Malaysia is approximately 330,000 square KM ( subject to the climate of Tropical East Asia; a forest climate which “…without human impact, would be covered in some sort of forest” (Corlett, 2014, p.22). Garrett Hardin described, in a 1968 paper, a concept to help understand natural resource use in general, and forestry in particular; “The Tragedy of the Commons” relates to the conflict between individuals pursuing their own self-interest and the existence of mutually beneficial resources of a society. The degree, structure and plausibility of sustainable forest management depends upon multi-faceted aspects of a particular nation including the degree of poverty, maturity of agricultural practices and level of corruption. Palo and Lehto (2012) note that in Malaysia the replacement of forest with rubber and oil palm was already well underway by the mid nineteen seventies. Thus, not only corruption, but institutional and socio-economic processes affect biodiversity, particularly related to forestry.
Trade-offs between sustainability and gross domestic product have often been used as justification for depletion of natural resources worldwide: Indeed, more than most tropical countries, the exploitation of tin, rubber and palm oil under stable political systems in Malaysia has allowed development and alleviation of poverty (Palo and Lehto, 2012, p354). This topic examines some aspects of forests applicable to many territories in the world but with particular focus on Malaysia.

Completion Requirements

  • Explore all topic, themes and concepts
  • Read the core texts identified in the Books section

Learning Outcomes

  • Define the principal forest types within Malaysia
  • Identify Malaysia’s forest resources
  • Assess the relationship between forestry, timber and palm oil



    • Abdullah, S.A., Hezri, A.A., 2008. From Forest Landscape to Agricultural Landscape in the Developing Tropical Country of Malaysia: Pattern, Process, and Their Significance on Policy. Environmental Management 42, 907–917. doi:10.1007/s00267-008-9178-3
    • Acosta, L.A., 2000. Rice and Corn, and the Asean Free Trade Area Agreement, in: Tilburg, A. van, Moll, H.A.J., Kuyvenhoven, A. (Eds.), Agricultural Markets Beyond Liberalization. Springer US, pp. 253–277.
    • Agus et al, 2013. Historical CO2 emissions from land use and land use change from the oil palm industry in Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea [WWW Document]. Tropenbos International. URL,+malaysia+and+papua+new+guinea (accessed 11.13.15).
    • Aziz, S.A., Clements, G.R., Rayan, D.M., Sankar, P., 2013. Why conservationists should be concerned about natural resource legislation affecting indigenous peoples’ rights: lessons from Peninsular Malaysia. Biodivers Conserv 22, 639–656. doi:10.1007/s10531-013-0432-5
    • Basiron, Y., 2007. Palm oil production through sustainable plantations. Eur. J. Lipid Sci. Technol. 109, 289–295. doi:10.1002/ejlt.200600223
    • Basit, A., Bhattacharyya, B., 2001. Status of Biological Control in Rice Insect Pest Management, in: Upadhyay, R.K., Mukerji, K.G., Chamola, B.P. (Eds.), Biocontrol Potential and Its Exploitation in Sustainable Agriculture. Springer US, pp. 113–129.
    • Batugal, P., Bourdeix, R., Baudouin, L., 2009. Coconut Breeding, in: Jain, S.M., Priyadarshan, P.M. (Eds.), Breeding Plantation Tree Crops: Tropical Species. Springer New York, New York, NY, pp. 327–375.
    • Butler, R., 2013. Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest map [WWW Document]. Mongabay Environmental News. URL (accessed 11.1.15).
    • Center for History and New Media, n.d. Первые Шаги в Zotero [WWW Document]. URL
    • Clements, R., Rayan, D.M., Zafir, A.W.A., Venkataraman, A., Alfred, R., Payne, J., Ambu, L., Sharma, D.S.K., 2010. Trio under threat: can we secure the future of rhinos, elephants and tigers in Malaysia? Biodiversity and Conservation 19, 1115–1136. doi:10.1007/s10531-009-9775-3
    • Cramb, R.A., Wills, I.R., 1990. The role of traditional institutions in rural development: Community-based land tenure and government land policy in Sarawak, Malaysia. World Development 18, 347–360. doi:10.1016/0305-750X(90)90122-E
    • Dand, R., 2011. 2 - Agronomics of international cocoa production, in: Dand, R. (Ed.), The International Cocoa Trade (Third Edition). Woodhead Publishing, pp. 23–64.
    • Doolittle, A.A., 2007. Native land tenure, conservation, and development in a pseudo-democracy: Sabah, Malaysia. The Journal of Peasant Studies 34, 474–497. doi:10.1080/03066150701802793
    • FAO, 2013. FAO, Forestry Country Information.
    • FAO, 2010. FAO, Global Forest Resources Assessment.
    • Gilman, E.L., Ellison, J., Duke, N.C., Field, C., 2008. Threats to mangroves from climate change and adaptation options: A review. Aquatic Botany 89, 237–250. doi:10.1016/j.aquabot.2007.12.009
    • Hartemink, A.E., 2005. Nutrient Stocks, Nutrient Cycling, and Soil Changes in Cocoa Ecosystems: A Review, in: Sparks, D.L. (Ed.), Advances in Agronomy. Academic Press, pp. 227–253.
    • He, F., LaFrankie, J.V., Song, B., 2002. Scale dependence of tree abundance and richness in a tropical rain forest, Malaysia. Landscape Ecol 17, 559–568. doi:10.1023/A:1021514104193
    • Ishii, S., Marshall, F.M., Bell, J.N.B., Abdullah, A.M., 2004. Impact of Ambient Air Pollution on Locally Grown Rice Cultivars (Oryza Sativa L.) in Malaysia. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution 154, 187–201. doi:10.1023/B:WATE.0000022964.55434.05
    • Itoh, A., Yamakura, T., Ogino, K., Lee, H.S., Ashton, P.S., 1997. Spatial distribution patterns of two predominant emergent trees in a tropical rainforest in Sarawak, Malaysia. Plant Ecology 132, 121–136. doi:10.1023/A:1009779424279
    • Karim, R.S. m., Man, A.B., Sahid, I.B., 2004. Weed problems and their management in rice fields of Malaysia: An overview. Weed Biology and Management 4, 177–186. doi:10.1111/j.1445-6664.2004.00136.x
    • Khanif, Y.M., Salmijah, S., 1996. Contaminants and the soil environment in Malaysia, in: Naidu, R., Kookana, R.S., Oliver, D.P., Rogers, S., McLaughlin, M.J. (Eds.), Contaminants and the Soil Environment in the Australasia-Pacific Region. Springer Netherlands, pp. 563–578.
    • Lagan, P., Mannan, S., Matsubayashi, H., 2007. Sustainable use of tropical forests by reduced-impact logging in Deramakot Forest Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia, in: Nakashizuka, T. (Ed.), Sustainability and Diversity of Forest Ecosystems. Springer Japan, pp. 414–421.
    • Latiff, A., Faridah-Hanum, I., 2014. Mangrove Ecosystem of Malaysia: Status, Challenges and Management Strategies, in: Faridah-Hanum, I., Latiff, A., Hakeem, K.R., Ozturk, M. (Eds.), Mangrove Ecosystems of Asia. Springer New York, pp. 1–22.
    • Lee, S.L., Wickneswari, R., Mahani, M.C., Zakri, A.H., 2000. Genetic Diversity of a Tropical Tree Species, Shorea leprosula Miq. (Dipterocarpaceae), in Malaysia: Implications for Conservation of Genetic Resources and Tree Improvement1. Biotropica 32, 213–224. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.2000.tb00464.x
    • MC&I, 2002. Malaysian Criteria and Indicators for Forest Management Certification.
    • McMorrow, J., Talip, M.A., 2001. Decline of forest area in Sabah, Malaysia: Relationship to state policies, land code and land capability. Global Environmental Change 11, 217–230. doi:10.1016/S0959-3780(00)00059-5
    • Mohd Azlan, J., 2006. Mammal Diversity and Conservation in a Secondary Forest in Peninsular Malaysia. Biodivers Conserv 15, 1013–1025. doi:10.1007/s10531-004-3953-0
    • Mohti, D.A., Parlan, I., Omar, H., 2014. Research and Development Activities Towards Sustainable Management of Mangroves in Peninsular Malaysia, in: Faridah-Hanum, I., Latiff, A., Hakeem, K.R., Ozturk, M. (Eds.), Mangrove Ecosystems of Asia. Springer New York, pp. 373–390.
    • Monteiro, W.R., Lopes, U.V., Clement, D., 2009. Genetic Improvement in Cocoa, in: Jain, S.M., Priyadarshan, P.M. (Eds.), Breeding Plantation Tree Crops: Tropical Species. Springer New York, pp. 589–626.
    • Montenegro, H.M., 1985. Coconut oil and its byproducts. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society 62, 259–261. doi:10.1007/BF02541388
    • Nair, K.P.P., 2010. 5 - Cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.), in: Nair, K.P.P. (Ed.), The Agronomy and Economy of Important Tree Crops of the Developing World. Elsevier, London, pp. 131–180.
    • Nakashima, Y., Inoue, E., Inoue-Murayama, M., Sukor, J.R.A., 2010. Functional uniqueness of a small carnivore as seed dispersal agents: a case study of the common palm civets in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia. Oecologia 164, 721–730. doi:10.1007/s00442-010-1714-1
    • Noguchi, S., Nik, A.R., Kasran, B., Tani, M., Sammori, T., Morisada, K., 1997a. Soil physical properties and preferential flow pathways in tropical rain forest, Bukit Tarek, Peninsular Malaysia. J. For. Res. 2, 115–120. doi:10.1007/BF02348479
    • Noguchi, S., Nik, A.R., Yusop, Z., Tani, M., Sammori, T., 1997b. Rainfall-runoff responses and roles of soil moisture variations to the response in tropical rain forest, bukit tarek, peninsular Malaysia. J. For. Res. 2, 125–132. doi:10.1007/BF02348209
    • Nykvist, P. emeritus N., 1998. Logging can cause a serious lack of calcium in tropical rainforest ecosystems: An example from Sabah, Malaysia, in: Schulte, P.D.A., Ruhiyat, D.D. (Eds.), Soils of Tropical Forest Ecosystems. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 87–91.
    • Palo, M., Lehto, E., 2012. Deforestation in the Tropics, in: Private or Socialistic Forestry? Springer Netherlands, pp. 253–409.
    • Phua, M.-H., Minowa, M., 2005. A GIS-based multi-criteria decision making approach to forest conservation planning at a landscape scale: a case study in the Kinabalu Area, Sabah, Malaysia. Landscape and Urban Planning 71, 207–222. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2004.03.004
    • Pinso, C., Vun, R.Y., 2000. Incentives for forestry plantation projects in Sabah, Malaysia. Holz als Roh- und Werkstoff 58, 202–210. doi:10.1007/s001070050414
    • Ratnasingam, J., Wai, L.T., Thanasegaran, G., Ioras, F., Vacalie, C., Coman, C., Wenming, L., 2013. Innovations in the Forest Products Industry: The Malaysian Experience. Notulae Botanicae Horti Agrobotanici Cluj-Napoca 41, 601–607. doi:10.15835/nbha4129339
    • Sakurai, S., 2006. Plantation Forestry in the Tropics, in: Suzuki, K., Ishii, K., Sakurai, S., Sasaki, S. (Eds.), Plantation Technology in Tropical Forest Science. Springer Tokyo, pp. 53–63.
    • Shamshuddin, J., Elisa Azura, A., Shazana, M.A.R.S., Fauziah, C.I., Panhwar, Q.A., Naher, U.A., 2014. Chapter Three - Properties and Management of Acid Sulfate Soils in Southeast Asia for Sustainable Cultivation of Rice, Oil Palm, and Cocoa, in: Sparks, D.L. (Ed.), Advances in Agronomy. Academic Press, pp. 91–142.
    • Shiraishi, N., Tachibana, S., 2003. Forest Certification Schemes in Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia: Background and Reality, in: Inoue, M., Isozaki, H. (Eds.), People and Forest — Policy and Local Reality in Southeast Asia, the Russian Far East, and Japan. Springer Netherlands, pp. 105–112.
    • Siriphanich, J., Saradhuldhat, P., Romphophak, T., Krisanapook, K., Pathaveerat, S., Tongchitpakdee, S., 2011. 2 - Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.), in: Yahia, E.M. (Ed.), Postharvest Biology and Technology of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits. Woodhead Publishing, pp. 8–35e.
    • Sulaiman, S., Abdul Aziz, A.R., Aroua, M.K., 2013. Reactive extraction of solid coconut waste to produce biodiesel. Journal of the Taiwan Institute of Chemical Engineers 44, 233–238. doi:10.1016/j.jtice.2012.10.008
    • Suratman, M.N., Hamid, N.H.A., Sabri, M.D.M., Kusin, M., Yamani, S.A.K., 2015. Changes in Tree Species Distribution Along Altitudinal Gradients of Montane Forests in Malaysia, in: Öztürk, M., Hakeem, K.R., Faridah-Hanum, I., Efe, R. (Eds.), Climate Change Impacts on High-Altitude Ecosystems. Springer International Publishing, pp. 491–522.
    • Transparency International – Malaysia, 2013. Going. Going...Gone? Our Turn to Care and Act for Our Forests. Norweigan Embassy.
    • Vaghefi, N., Shamsudin, M.N., Makmom, A., Bagheri, M., 2011. The Economic Impacts of Climate Change on the Rice Production in Malaysia. International Journal of Agricultural Research 6, 67–74. doi:10.3923/ijar.2011.67.74
    • Weng, C.N., 2005. Sustainable management of rivers in Malaysia: Involving all stakeholders. International Journal of River Basin Management 3, 147–162. doi:10.1080/15715124.2005.9635254
    • Wilting, A., Fischer, F., Bakar, S.A., Linsenmair, K.E., 2006. Clouded leopards, the secretive top-carnivore of South-East Asian rainforests: their distribution, status and conservation needs in Sabah, Malaysia. BMC Ecol 6, 1–13. doi:10.1186/1472-6785-6-16
    • WWF, n.d. Threats to Borneo forests [WWW Document]. URL (accessed 11.13.15).
    • Zhila, H., Mahmood, H., Rozainah, M.Z., 2013. Biodiversity and biomass of a natural and degraded mangrove forest of Peninsular Malaysia. Environ Earth Sci 71, 4629–4635. doi:10.1007/s12665-013-2853-6

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