Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Of Deforestation in Malaysia

Deforestation is a tough guy to beat in environmental crisis nowadays in Malaysia.

The shocking was still after NASA revealed Malaysia has seen a 115% increase in deforestation during the first three months of 2013, according to a forest tracking tool developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) researchers which took us the highest among five countries where deforestation was detected, followed by Nepal (114%), Mexico (92%), Argentina (72%), and Madagascar (51%).

The 5th Assessment Report of IPCC revealed on Sept 27 state human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.

According to WWF, tropical forests hold more than 210 gigatons of carbon and deforestation itself representing around 15% of greenhouse gas emissions.

The remaining healthy forests are functioning to absorb greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions that are caused by human daily activities and contribute to global climate change. How long these forests will last?

We do realize without the tree, more carbon and greenhouse gasses enter the atmosphere.

To make matters worse, trees actually become carbon sources when they are cut, burned, or otherwise removed. They believe deforestation in Malaysia is majorly caused by the vast activities of the palm-oil plantation, uncontrolled logging and land development for residential and power plant.

This observation still did not mention about illegal logging which already contribute at least half of deforestation rate in Malaysia especially at Sabah and Sarawak.

Environment vs. Profits

We can say capitalization is at its best after all since the profit easily takes down all any major policy and law enforcement towards forest preservation. The market demands on crude palm oil (CPO) from all over the world push the local producers vying to produce more to meet the demands.

The large scale cash crops of palm-oil increase year by year according to Malaysia Palm Oil Board (MPOB) and causing thousands of acres of forests being cut down.

Yes, the profit and urbanization do say it all.

Yet discussed here is, how the looseness of law enforcement and integrity policy make it worse. This issue will get political when environmentalists start to question the government about the ineffectiveness of current policies on deforestation and lack of prudent actions taken to solve the issues at any level of administration.

This is big challenges to people who keen to see this country always take progressive steps to respond to climate change.

I had participated in the policy track during the Global Power Shift (Phase 1) at Istanbul, Turkey. It is an opportunity for me to address the deforestation as a major climate crisis facing by all Malaysians.

I put a dire hope for empowering the local movement to calling a bold climate movement at the local level and restlessly organize the resources to build up the understanding towards climate change in societies.

How do we, the peoples should respond to climate?

I choose to speak about the alternative efforts, as the grassroots environmental movements.

I start to think about the urban farming to replace the burned-down forest areas and functioning as mini urban forests to reduce the urban heat islands effect, absorb greenhouse gasses and city carbon emissions, provide greener surroundings and helping the flood crisis by grounding the water in trees roots.

I do involve in a lot of tree planting events and always thought we had to design a better campaign series to get more public involved and give deep impact to the environment.

Introducing the Mini Urban Forest

Urban farming refers to the allocation of a small portion of the private area in each residential building, terrace houses, playgrounds, office buildings and car parks to plant trees and forming mini forest areas.

It is also included the vertical farming on all concrete buildings, especially the cement pavement of spiral roads. The vertical farming on these cement pavements will give greener looks instead of plain naked concrete structures.

Literally, this idea seems very idealistic.

Yes. And we need some creative approaches to realize it.

I tend to apply a fun theory, a great initiative by Volkswagen in order to change people’s behaviors towards a cause.

Undoubtedly using a fun approach campaign is much easier to get people's involve in. In the past project by Volkswagen, we can see how peoples choose to use the staircases instead of escalators after they introduce a Piano Staircase, and how people’s behaviors on recycling change after they introduce Bottle Bank Arcade Machine.

This slightly gives brief pictures on how to design a new tree planting campaign by applying fun theory on it.

If the Piano Staircase inventor just simply asks, “Can we get more people to choose the stairs by making it fun to do?”  yes, we also absolutely can introduce that question on our cause too, simply by asking “Can we get more people to plant trees by making it fun to do?”.

We need to create some better conditions within which communities like house’s owners, offices, kids, and schools will motivate themselves to involve in a tree planting campaign and react to the climate crisis.

It will be awesome when environmentalists no longer fighting climate change alone, but have people’s willingness alongside. This is an alternative approach to recover the effect of deforestation in the urban area.

The peoples need to be enlightened about the crisis we are facing right now. The debate is over, it is a time for action.

In a nutshell, within our small effort towards a greener and better environment, the truth here is the work is never finished.

Deforestation is just a partial of climate crisis happened in Malaysia. It is a lot more to address it up, such a fossil fuel consumption, harsh urbanization, river pollution, inefficient factories waste disposal and more.

At the end of the day, it is a dire need to address the peoples about the needs of practicing lower-carbon lifestyle if they really do want to see our Earth still survive after 2050.

Malaysia Forest Figures

Forest Cover

Total forest area: 20,890,000 ha
% of land area: 63.6%

Primary forest cover: 3,820,000 ha
% of land area: 11.6%
% total forest area: 18.3%

Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005

Annual change in forest cover: -140,200 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.7%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: 85.1%
Total forest loss since 1990: -1,486,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-6.6%

Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: n/a
Annual deforestation rate: n/a
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990: 0.0%

Forest Classification

Public: 93.4%
Private: 6.6%
Other: 0%
Production: 56.6%
Protection: 18.2%
Conservation: 5.4%
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: 19.8%
None or unknown: n/a

Forest Area Breakdown

Total area: 20,890,000 ha
Primary: 3,820,000 ha
Modified natural: n/a
Semi-natural: 15,497,000 ha
Production plantation: 1,573,000 ha
Production plantation: n/a


Plantations, 2005: 1,573,000 ha
% of total forest cover: 7.5%
Annual change rate (00-05): -17,200,000 ha

Carbon storage

Above-ground biomass: 5,661 M t
Below-ground biomass: 1,359 M t

Area annually affected by

Fire: 1,000 ha
Insects: n/a
Diseases: n/a

Number of tree species in IUCN red list

Number of native tree species: 2,650
Critically endangered: 50
Endangered: 99
Vulnerable: 403

Wood removal 2005

Industrial roundwood: 20,600,000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 3,414,000 m3 o.b.

Value of forest products, 2005

Industrial roundwood: $2,081,000,000
Wood fuel: $69,000,000
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: $2,150,000,000

Source: MongaBay.com

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