Tropical Rainforests Case Study - GCSE Geography

Malaysia's rainforest - Living World

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  • Created by: Né M
  • Created on: 07-06-12 14:43


Location: Malaysia, South-east asia

Natural biome: Tropical Rainforest

Trees and forest cover an area equivalent to the whole of the UK

The rainforests support over thousands of species of plants, trees, insects and animals - many of which only exist in tropical rainforest

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Statistics show Malaysia to have the fastest increasing rate in deforestation than in any other tropical country in the world.
Since 2000, 140,200ha of forest has been lost.


  •  In the '80s, rampant logging led to Malaysia to be the world's largest exporter of tropical wood. Clear felling (where all trees are felled in an area) was common, leading to total destruction of forest habitats.
  • Recently, there has been mostly selective logging - where only fully grown trees are felled, and trees with important ecological properties are left
    -while this type of logging is less damaging, it reduces biodiversity
  • Logging can lead to soil erosion and mudslides
  • It can also threaten indigenous tribes 
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Energy and Mining Causing Deforestation


  • A dam project will result in the flooding of thousands of hectares of forest, in order for hydro-electric power to be supplied in industrialised areas. 
    -230km² of rainforest has to be cut down, meaning 9000 indigenous tribe members must be forced to leave the area. 
    -The tribe members are poor subsistence farmers, however have to pay to be rehoused. This resulted in many becoming depressed and alcoholics.


  • Areas of rainforest have been cleared in order to allow for tin mining and road construction
    -in some areas, mining has lead to the pollution of rivers and land.
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Commercial Plantations, Resettlement and Fires Cau

Commercial Plantations

  • Malaysia is a major producer of oil palm and rubber, and in the early 20th century, forest was cleared to make way for rubber plantations. However, recently - due to the production of synthetic rubber - many plantations have been abandoned or converted into oil palm.
  • Deforestation for palm oil is taking place in Malaysia and threatens the survival of many species of wildlife.


  • In the '80sm 15,000ha of forest was felled to accommodate new settlers


  • Fires are coming. While some are natural, others result from forest clearance or arson. Occasionally 'slash and burn' techniques result in wildfires.
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Sustainable Rainforest Management

National Forest Policy:

  • The export of low-value logs is banned
  • Encourage alternative timber sources
  • Increase public awareness of forests
  • Increase research into forestry
  • Involve local communities in forest projects

Selective Management system:

  • 2 years before felling: study to identify what is there
  • 1 year before felling: Appropriate trees marked for felling
  • Felling: Carried out by license holders
  • 3-6 months after felling: Survey to check what's been felled
  • 2 years after felling: Plan drawn up to restore forest
  • 5-10 years after felling: Replacement trees planted
  • 30-40 years after felling: Cycle begins again

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