Sustainable Forest Management in Malaysia

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Haron Abu Hassan, Mohd Dusuki Mohd Nor
01 Jan 1997
9781848596153 (PDF)

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This illustrated report discusses the development of forest management in Malaysia and provides a comprehensive introduction to the characteristics of Malaysian forests and their importance to the economy.

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  • Foreword

    This report is the fourth in the series published by the Commonwealth Secretariat. Each volume traces the development of tropical forest management in a Commonwealth country and illustrates the range of experience that has been gathered during the past century and more of Commonwealth forestry. Forest management is no longer the concern of forest managers alone, and the wise use of tropical forest increasingly depends on the understanding of interested people outside the profession, such as politicians, the general public, and the media.

  • Preface

    Forests may be a familiar site in Malaysia but forest management could be as alien as the name of commercial trees to non-botanists or foresters, despite all that has been done in this field. Perhaps concerted educational promotion will bring the public into the forest, not so much to see the dollar signs on the big trees but to experience the serenity of God's creation away from the dust and noise polluting the cities and towns. Being in the forest, doubtlessly one would soon be conscious of the 'compactness' and complexity of the forest ecosystem emanating a glorious feeling and sense of peacefulness.

  • Introduction

    Malaysia is endowed with lush, humid, tropical rainforest, often referred to as the wet equatorial rainforest. However, not all the forests in Malaysia have similar texture and structure. They differ with location and altitude and it would be a great mistake to have a single management procedure for all the forests in Malaysia, or to expect a forest to response similarly to a particular management practice.

  • Physical Features

    Peninsular Malaysia lies at the southern-most tip of mainland South-east Asia, while the states of Sabah and Sarawak lie to the east on the island of Borneo. The total land area is approximately 32.9 million hectares with 13.2 million hectares in Peninsular Malaysia, which comprises eleven states and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur; 7.4 million hectares in Sabah (including the Federal Territory of Labuan), and 12.3 million hectares in Sarawak. Peninsular Malaysia is separated from Sabah and Sarawak by 720 km of the South China Sea, and the country as a whole has a coastline of about 4,830 km.

  • The Forest

    Malaysia has been fortunate to be endowed with extensive areas of valuable natural tropical rainforest which are extremely complex ecosystems and rich in tree species as in similar areas of Africa and South America. In fact, Malaysia has one of the most species-rich communities in the world. The flora is estimated to comprise 7,500 species of seed plants in which 4,100 are woody.

  • Importance of the Forests

    Forests play a very significant role in furthering resource-based industrialisation and the socioeconomic development of Malaysia. Besides, they have long been recognised as an important contributor to environmental stability and better quality of life for the country. They protect, maintain and safeguard fresh-water supply and help keep the climate stable and reduce the level of the carbon dioxide content.

  • Development of Forest Management

    The forests in Peninsular Malaysia have been systematically managed since the beginning of this century when the first Forest Officer was appointed in 1901. Over the years, ecologically and environmentally sound forest conservation and management practices have been developed to ensure forest renewal and sustainable yield of timber and other products. The earlier silvicultural management systems were primarily concerned with improving the existing timber crop for future exploitation.

  • Review on Approaches to Sustainable Forest Management

    The management of tropical rainforests, including those in Malaysia has of late been the focus of world attention, especially in the developed countries. The major concern is the alarming rate of tropical forest deforestation worldwide, which was reported to be as high as 16.8 million ha annually for the period 1981 - 1990. It is now realised that forests are important, amongst others, for carbon dioxide fixation preservation of biological diversity and the maintenance of an equable climate.

  • Management Issues and Challenges in Forestry

    It is envisaged that more intensive forest management will be carried out in the coming years, particularly with increasing emphasis now being placed on topical forest with regard to its sustainability, conservation and development. This is in line with Malaysia's stand as a member of producer countries where it is required that all trade in tropical timber follow the decisions agreed in UNCED which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June, 1992. There the "Non-Legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of all Types of Forests" was agreed and the "Convention on Biological Diversity" by the European Economic Community and 153 countries, including Malaysia, was signed.

  • Research and Development on Forest Management Practices

    Forestry research in Malaysia dates back to the beginning of the century with the establishment of the Forest Research Institute in Kepong, near Kuala Lumpur as a research unit of the Forestry Department. In October 1985, the Institute became a statutory body, and is now known as the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM). FRIM is responsible for research on all aspects of forestry and forest products.

  • Conclusion

    Malaysia is aware of the need to manage sustainably its forests, not only for socio-economic benefits but also for climatic, ecological and environmental stability. It strongly believes in the principles of sustainable management and is openly committed to maintain its Permanent Forest Estate and the network of conservation areas. Compared to European forestry, forest management in Malaysia is relatively new, but British involvement in the early twentieth century administration of the Straits Settlement, the Malay States and North Borneo had brought Malaysian forestry to the fore in South-east Asia and the tropical world.

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