Malaysia has a total forested area of 18.27 million ha that equates to 55.3% of the total land area. It is divided between Sarawak with 8.03 million ha, Peninsular Malaysia with 5.80 million ha, and Sabah with 4.44 million ha.
Malaysian natural forests can be distinguished in three main biological types:
According to the Malaysian Timber Council (2017) Malaysia has a total forested area of 18.27 million ha that equates to 55.3% of the total land area. It is divided between Sarawak with 8.03 million ha, Peninsular Malaysia with 5.80 million ha, and Sabah with 4.44 million ha. The data presented does not include agricultural tree crops such as oil palm, rubber, cocoa or other trees grown for horticultural products.
Malaysia has three main types of timber sources:
About 34% of the Permanent Reserved Forest (PRF) is designated as protected. Such protected forests are managed by the state and include: non-harvestable forests (areas above certain altitudes, slopes), virgin jungle reserves, recreational forests, catchment forests and reservoirs; National and State Parks, Wildlife & Bird Sanctuaries. Currently Peninsular Malaysia has 1.83 million ha of protected forests, Sabah has 1.88 million ha, and Sarawak has 0.82 million ha.
The size of the forest sector and the sources of timber vary significantly from one region of Malaysia to another. Sarawak accounted for nearly 60% of the total natural forest production in Malaysia in 2012, Peninsular Malaysia for 28% and Sabah for 12%. Most timber production in Sarawak is from natural forests, while in Peninsular Malaysia production is predominantly from natural forest production but also from clearance of rubber plantations (Hoare, 2015). Sabah relies heavily on natural forest production too, but plantations are becoming increasingly important, accounting for just over one-third of log production in 2013, mainly for pulp.
Much of Malaysia’s forest is degraded: for example, approximately 80% of forests in Sabah and Sarawak have been heavily impacted by unsustainable logging. There have been high levels of deforestation in the country: satellite data indicate that the annual deforestation rate was 1.6% between 2000 and 2012. Expansion of agricultural plantations (mainly oil palm) has been the main driver for loss of natural forest areas in the country (Hoare, 2015).
Malaysia is composed of West Malaysia, also known as Peninsular Malaysia (with 11 states), and East Malaysia consisting of two states; Sabah and Sarawak. Responsibilities for forestry are divided between the federal and state governments. The forestry departments of each state are responsible for regulating forest exploitation and management. The departments of the 11 states of Peninsular Malaysia come under the umbrella of the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia (FDPM), while the forest departments of Sabah and Sarawak are autonomous.
|Land surface||32.9 million hectares|
|Forest cover||22.2 million hectares (67.6%); mostly primary and other naturally regenerated forest
12.4 million hectares designated for production
|Production forest||12.4 million hectares designated for production|
|Forest ownership||95.4% publicly owned
4.6% privately owned
|Annual change rate||Average of 0% per year; over the past 25 years (1990-2015)
2000-2005: -0,66% by year
2005- 2015: +0,61 by year
Source: FAO, 2015
See also: Global Forest Ressources Assessment 2020, FAO