63.6% —or about 20,890,000 hectares—of Malaysia is forested. Of this, 18.3% —or roughly 3,820,000 hectares—is classified as primary forest, the most biodiverse form of forest.

Change in Forest Cover: Between 1990 and 2000, Malaysia lost an average of 78,500 hectares of forest per year. The amounts to an average annual deforestation rate of 0.35%. Between 2000 and 2005, the rate of forest change increased by 85.1% to 0.65% per annum. In total, between 1990 and 2005, Malaysia lost 6.6% of its forest cover, or around 1,486,000 hectares. Measuring the total rate of habitat conversion (defined as change in forest area plus change in woodland area minus net plantation expansion) for the 1990-2005 interval, Malaysia lost 5.4% of its forest and woodland habitat.

Biodiversity and Protected Areas: Malaysia has some 1671 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles according to figures from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Of these, 13.9% are endemic, meaning they exist in no other country, and 9.3% are threatened. Malaysia is home to at least 15500 species of vascular plants, of which 23.2% are endemic. 4.1% of Malaysia is protected under IUCN categories I-V.

Malaysia Environmental profile | Malaysia pictures


Malaysia: Forest Cover, 2005
Total Land Area (ha)32,855,000
Total Forest Area (ha)20,890,000
Percent Forest Cover63.58%
Primary Forest Cover (ha)3,820,000
Primary Forest, % total forest18.29%
Primary Forest, % total land11.63%
Other wooded land (ha)-

Malaysia : Forest types
Tropical (% forest area)100%
Subtropical (% forest area)0%
Temperate (% forest area)0%
Boreal/polar (% forest area)0%

Malaysia: Breakdown of forest types, 2005
Primary forest (ha | %)3,820,00018.3%
Modified natural (ha | %)--
Semi-natural (ha | %)15,497,00074.2%
Production plantation (ha | %)1,573,0007.5%
Production plantation (ha | %)--

Malaysia: Change in Forest Cover
Forest 1990 (ha)22,376,000
Forest 2000 (ha)21,591,000
Forest 2005 (ha)20,890,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(78,500)-0.35%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(140,200)-0.65%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(1,486,000)-6.64%
Change in rate (%)85.09%
Primary 1990 (ha)3,820,000
Primary 2000 (ha)3,820,000
Primary 2005 (ha)3,820,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)-0.00%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)-0.00%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)-0.00%
Change in rate (%)#DIV/0!
Other 1990 (ha)-
Other 2000 (ha)-
Other 2005 (ha)-
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)--
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)--
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)--
Change in rate (%)-
Other 1990 (ha)1,956,000
Other 2000 (ha)1,659,000
Other 2005 (ha)1,573,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(29,700)-1.52%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(17,200)-1.04%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(383,000)-19.58%
Change in rate (%)-31.72%
Forest area+Wooded Area-Plantations
Other 1990 (ha)20,420,000
Other 2000 (ha)19,932,000
Other 2005 (ha)19,317,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(48,800)-0.24%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(123,000)-0.62%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(1,103,000)-5.40%
Change in rate (%)158.22%

Malaysia: Primary
Primary or "old-growth" vegetation
Primary Forest 2005 (ha)3,820,000
Other primary wooded land 2005 (ha)-
Other primary wooded land 2005 (ha)3,820,000
Undisturbed vegetation 2005 (% land area)11.63%

Malaysia: Forest designation
Ownership of forest land, 2000
Public (%)93.4%
Private (%)6.6%
Other (%)0.0%
Ownership of other wooded land, 2000
Public (%)-
Private (%)-
Other (%)-
Designated functions of forest – primary function 2005
Production (%)56.6%
Protection (%)18.2%
Conservation (%)5.4%
Social Services (%)-
Multiple Services (%)19.8%
None of Unknown (%)-

Malaysia: Disturbances affecting forest land 2000
Forest Area annually affected by
Fire (%)0.00%
Insects (ha)-
Diseases (ha)-
Other (ha)-

Malaysia: Protected areas
Protected areas
Biosphere reserves, 2005
Wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites), 20054
World Heritage sites, 20042
Protected Areas: IUCN categories I-V, percent of total land4.1%
Protected Areas: IUCN categories Ia, Ib, and II, extent, percent of total land2.72%
Protected Areas: IUCN categories III, IV, and V, percent of total land, 20041.42%
Protected Areas: IUCN categories VI and other, percent of total land, 200426.43%

Malaysia: Biodiversity - Wildlife
total species200
endemic species89
threatened species45
total species746
endemic species26
threatened species40
total species337
endemic species35
threatened species50
total species388
endemic species82
threatened species21
Wildlife diversity
total species1671
endemic species232
threatened species156

Malaysia: Biodiversity - Plants
Growing stock composition
3 most common species
% of total growing stock
Growing stock composition
3 most common species
% of total growing stock
Number of Native tree species
Native tree species2,650
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Critically Endangered50
Vascular Plant Species, 2004
Number endemic3600
Number of Threatened Plant Species, 2004
Species threatened683

Malaysia: Value of forests
Biomass stock in forest, 2005
Above-ground biomass (M t)5,661
Below-ground biomass (M t)1,359
Dead wood (M t)1,053
Total (M t)8,073
Carbon stock in forest, 2005
Carbon in above-ground biomass (M t)2,831
Carbon in below-ground biomass (M t)679
Carbon in dead wood (M t)526
Carbon in litter (M t)-
Soil carbon (M t)-
Change in growing stock 1990 - 2005
Annual change rate (1000 cubic m/yr)
Growing stock per hectare 1990 - 2005
Annual change rate ( cubic m/ha per yr)
Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood (1000 cubic m)20,600
Wood fuel (1000 cubic m)3,414
Total wood removal 2005 (1000 cubic m)24,014
Total wood removal 2005 (% of growing stock)n.s.
Plant products 2005
Food (t)-
Fodder (t)-
Raw material for medicine and aromatic products (t)-
Raw material for colorants and dyes (t)-
Raw material for utensils, handicrafts & construction (t)-
Ornamental plants (t)-
Exudates (t)-
Other plant products (t)-
Animal products 2005
Living animals (units)-
Hides, skins and trophies (units)-
Wild honey and bee-wax (t)-
Bush meat (t)-
Raw material for medicine and aromatic products (t)-
Raw material for colorants and dyes (t)-
Other edible animal products (t)-
Other non-edible animal products (t)-
Value of wood and non-wood forest product removal 2005
Industrial roundwood (US$)$2,081,000,000
Wood fuel (US$)$69,000,000
Non-wood forest products (US$)-
Total value (US$)$2,150,000,000
Total value ($USD/ha)$103
Employment in forestry 2000
Total people employed67,000

Malaysia : Production, trade and consumption of forest products, 2002
Woodfuel ('000 cubic m), 2002
Industrial roundwood ('000 cubic m), 2002
Sawnwood ('000 cubic m), 2002
Wood-based panels ('000 cubic m), 2002
Pulp for paper ('000 metric tons), 2002
Paper and paperboard ('000 metric tons), 2002
Malaysia: Environment
Environment - current issuesair pollution from industrial and vehicular emissions; water pollution from raw sewage; deforestation; smoke/haze from Indonesian forest fires
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
Natural hazardsflooding, landslides, forest fires

Malaysia: Land use / Resources
Land use (%)arable land: 5.48%
permanent crops: 17.61%
other: 76.91% (2001)
Natural resourcestin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite

Malaysia: Economy
Economy - overview:Malaysia, a middle-income country, transformed itself from 1971 through the late 1990's from a producer of raw materials into an emerging multi-sector economy. Growth was almost exclusively driven by exports - particularly of electronics. As a result, Malaysia was hard hit by the global economic downturn and the slump in the information technology (IT) sector in 2001 and 2002. GDP in 2001 grew only 0.5% because of an estimated 11% contraction in exports, but a substantial fiscal stimulus package equal to US $1.9 billion mitigated the worst of the recession, and the economy rebounded in 2002 with a 4.1% increase. The economy grew 4.9% in 2003, notwithstanding a difficult first half, when external pressures from SARS and the Iraq War led to caution in the business community. Growth topped 7% in 2004 and 5% in 2005. Healthy foreign exchange reserves, low inflation, and a small external debt are all strengths that make it unlikely that Malaysia will experience a financial crisis over the near term similar to the one in 1997. The economy remains dependent on continued growth in the US, China, and Japan, top export destinations and key sources of foreign investment.
GDP - per capita$10,400 (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate (%)5.1% (2005 est.)
Agriculture - productsPeninsular Malaysia - rubber, palm oil, cocoa, rice; Sabah - subsistence crops, rubber, timber, coconuts, rice; Sarawak - rubber, pepper, timber
GDP - composition by sector (%)agriculture: 7.2%, industry: 33.3%, services: 59.5% (2005 est.)
Industries Peninsular Malaysia - rubber and oil palm processing and manufacturing, light manufacturing industry, electronics, tin mining and smelting, logging and processing timber; Sabah - logging, petroleum production; Sarawak - agriculture processing, petroleum production and refining, logging
Population below poverty line (%)8% (1998 est.)
Debt - external$56.72 billion (30 June 2005 est.)
Labor force - by occupation (%)agriculture 14.5%, industry 36%, services 49.5% (2000 est.)

Malaysia: Population / Demographics
Population (July 2005)23,953,136
Population growth rate (%) (2005)1.80%
Population density (people/sq km) (2005)72.9
Percent rural (2003)36.1%
Median age (years)total: 23.92 years
Total fertility rate (children born/woman)3.07 (2005 est.)
Ethnic groups (%)Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, Indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8% (2004 est.)

Largest Cities in Malaysia

Cities and urban areas in Malaysia with population over 100,000 All figures are estimates for 2002.

CityCountryCity PopulationUrban Area Population
Kuala LumpurMalaysia14486004060000
Johor BahruMalaysia722200722200
Kuala TerengganuMalaysia302900302900
Kota BahruMalaysia290900290900
Kota KinabaluMalaysia216400216400
Kajang-Sungai ChuaMalaysia201800201800
Alor SetarMalaysia199100199100
Sungai PetaniMalaysia141900141900
Bandar PenggaramMalaysia101000101000

 Environment, Land use / Resources, Economy, Population / Demographics, Infrastructure, Health -- CIA World Factbook, 2005
 Forest Cover, Forest types, Breakdown of forest types, Change in Forest Cover, Primary forests, Forest designation, Disturbances affecting forest land, Value of forests, Production, trade and consumption of forest products -- The FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS's Global Forest Resources Assessment (2005) and the State of the World’s Forests (2005, 2003, 2001)
 Protected Areas, Plant and animal biodiversity -- United Nations Environment Programme - World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). 2004. World Database on Protected Areas.
 Biosphere reservers -- United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) - Man and Biosphere Program. 2004. UNESCO - MAB Biosphere Reserves Directory.
 RAMSAR sites -- The Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands . 2005. The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
 World Resources Institute's EarthTrends web site
 The 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
 Population Data -- United Nations Population Fund
 With additional analysis by Rhett Butler of

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