Deforestation and forest degradation in Malaysia is a complex phenomenon with varying causes. So far, however, the focus has been largely on direct causes like industrial logging, large-scale commercial oil palm plantations and agribusiness, road construction and large dams. Far less attention has been paid to the indirect or underlying causes and agents, inter-linking and working to enrich the very few while creating hardships for many people as a result of degraded or diminished resources.
Major agents of deforestation include commercial loggers, commercial oil palm and other tree planters, infrastructure developers or governmental and developmental agencies. As community forests are plundered and forests are cleared, local sustainable customary land use systems are confined to reduced areas of forest land threatening their sustainability. This has had harmful effects on communities’ access to forest resources, consequently causing hardship and poverty.
This report is one of several commissioned case studies of the FPP’s Rights, Forests and Climate Project. It examines the combinations of direct and underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation in Malaysia, and supports the convening of a global workshop to analyse these problems and develop solutions to the crisis.
This case study report has three parts:
- Part 1 gives an overview of the status of Malaysia’s forests today.
- Part 2 explores what is happening on-the-ground through fieldwork in two different geographical locations: a Penan community in Middle Baram in Sarawak and an Orang Asli community in Labu, Negeri Sembilan in Peninsular Malaysia.
- Part 3 presents some lessons learned as well as community initiatives, solutions and recommendations.