Rainforest Journal

Rainforest Info, Images, and Adventures.

Forest Reserves are not “Permanent” in Malaysia


It is with a heavy heart that I post this blog post, after waking up today and reading this piece of news concerning the massive destruction of the lowland forest at the Lesong Forest Reserve in south Pahang. As you can see from the video, this is actually rare forest habitat on lowland, undulating terrain, and contrary to the Pahang State Government’s excuse that “the forest is low quality forest” you can actually see that the logs being pulled out are HUGE (The best yield forests are always lowland forest below 300m altitude). This apparently contradicts their “low quality timber” statement! What is more depressing is this area is adjacent to the northern part of the beautiful Endau Rompin National Park, that I recently came back from.

Why would it matter to you?

For those not yet well versed with Malaysia’s forestry practices, what they frequently do nowadays is to clear fell an entire forest area (chop down everything), and then replant the entire place with palm oil or other commercial crops. Gone are the days when we followed a systematic cyclical logging system. The trend is to chop down everything and replace it with oil palm/another crop/plantation.

I have noticed this trend in Malaysia recent years. The logging is either very severe, because they cannot wait 20-30 years for the trees to regrow a little, and so subject the production forests to faster and faster logging cycles, or they simply clear-cut everything and plant the area with oil palm. The result is of course, the “permanent” forest estate quality throughout Malaysia becoming more and more degraded as time goes on. And then finally, they use the excuse that the low quality timber is the reason to chop down everything and turn it into an oil palm plantation, because it doesn’t yield any more good timber!

It doesn’t matter if it is a classified “Permanent Forest Reserve” on paper, or not. Actually in Malaysia, the long running joke is that a “Forest Reserve” simply means it is “Reserved” for some obnoxious timber “tauke” with deep pockets to buy/bribe over the right to log the place. Except that this is not a joke, but the reality in Malaysia.

Well, everyone wins here – the timber barons, the plantation companies, and the state governments. The big loser is our earth, and countless life forms lost forever. The future generation may consider this a loss – if they care enough. Ultimately it does not matter, because WE all (the inhabitants of the earth) lose. Does less forest cover actually contribute to climate change and even more environmental degradation? Absolutely, but it would take pages and pages to explain to the ignorant.

Although I am happy newspapers like TheStar often bring such issues to the public attention, I actually deplore the way the mainstream media carefully uses the words “environmentalists” as in – “environmentalists are up in arms over this”. It is like environmentalists are a small fringe group constantly harping on green issues, with nothing better to do. It’s similar to how we call people who destroy the environment (like a patch of forest near an urban area) as “developers”, and the forest is somehow getting in the way and needs to be cleared or “developed” even if it is a vital green lung performing very useful and needed functions. All these subtle mental constructs do not encourage humans to view themselves (man) as part of the environment, when this is simply the truth!

No, this is NOT an issue that only angers so-called environmentalists; actually we are ALL environmentalists, because this earth is the only physical home we have, and it is not a choice we can even afford to make. If we do not care about trashing up the earth, we will live to regret it, and it is happening even right now. The state of the world just keeps going from bad to worse, despite all the lip service we pay to the ideal.

The day will come when there will be nothing left to ruin.

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  1. Excellent article. keep up the good work. As Malaysian Citizens, what can we do to help/support/save our forests? Are there any groups who champion the survival and value of our jungles?
    Please do advise.

  2. @ Lim Cho Wei

    I think joining a conservation NGO like MNS is a good first step, because that indirectly supports them. Also being the eyes and ears of the forest, when you go traveling, and you see logging or poaching activity, etc. There is a lot of illegal logging activities nowadays, but even the so-called legal ones are taking a terrible toll on Malaysia’s environment, as everyone can see.

  3. Great article and blog. As a student, this matter also make me sad too. Honestly, I’m not kind of people who go to jungle trekking whenever I have a free time. However, during my degree time, i had a chance to visit Taman Negara and Merapoh and explored the cave there, make me realized how lucky i am to be able to experience the beauty of our forest and caves in Malaysia. But the thought that we might lost our forest sooner or later really, really make me sad. Now, i futher my study in UKM, and one of my lecturer also expressed his sad feeling over the mismanagement here for simply allowing more new facilities to be build here by taking the land from Hutan Simpan Bangi. The lecturer from outside Malaysia think that we are very lucky to have a forest in our university, and we should fully utilized them for good (for research purpose of course, not for chopping to build new faculty) but we simply take this matter for granted.

  4. Hello,

    as Malaysian citizens,
    we can do several things, God Willing.

    – We can study about and learn to use types of jungle plants that are relevant for our area.
    for example,


    – Learn how to survive in the jungle without modern technology, which is the ideal to be aspired to.
    for Malaysia, can check videos of a brother from Janda Baik.
    “junglecrafty” channel on youtube

    – Try jungle trekking around the rainy season. Collect seeds of different types and try to replant somewhere else where there is no vegetation.

    – Reuse and recycle everything.

    – Try to use only natural materials. On a larger scale – learn how to become full self-sufficient. It might take up to five years and more.

    – Do not trust any media. They all cheat. Learn how to do without.

    – For any details, can contact me (Gua Musang, south Kelantan).

    – Do not try to become prominent. Working in the “undercurrent” style can actually be more effective nowadays. We live in the Last Days, according to Islam, Christianity, Judaism, the days of Kali Yuga in Hinduism. Given that all religions come from the same source… Judgement Day is near.

    “Let no one deceive you after me…” said Prophet Muhammad saws

    – It is all in the hands of God, and we hope and beseech Him to allow us to do this much!

  5. Buah-buah nadir (fruits that are now rare to find), for example, buah kepayang and

    buah perah, can be nowadays found in Pahang, for example, around Jerantut. Also in

    the hilly forest around Pos Tuhoi and further up towards the Cameron Highlands. Of

    course, in some other secluded places as well. God Willing.

    Another thing, there is a company that is selling the seedlings of big forest trees.

    “Dari Hutan ke Bandar”.


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