Deforestation in Malaysia (Why should Tropical Rainforest be protected…
Deforestation in Malaysia
Causes of Deforestation
Malaysia became the largest exporter of tropical wood in the 1980's
Most of the logging was clear felling where all the trees in a certain area are all chopped down. However more recently clear felling has mostly been replaced by selective logging, which is where only certain fully grown trees are cut down and then the area is left to regrow.
Roads are being built through the rainforest to link up settlements. This damages the rainforest as lots of trees have to be cut down to make way for the roads
Hydroelectric plants are being built in the rainforest to provide cheap electricity for the growing population. These dams destroy huge amounts of rainforest as when the dam is built large areas of rainforest is flooded.
In 2011 the Bank dam in the Malaysian peninsula started to generate electricity. It is the the tallest dam in Asia, outside of China, and flooded 700km of rainforest and farmland.
Mining for minerals and metals, mostly in the Malaysian peninsula, destroys huge areas of rainforest for open pit mining. This also damages the rainforest as roads have to be created to get to the mines and some of the chemicals they use to mine are very harmful to the environment.
Lots of rainforest is cleared for commercial farming, especially the farming of palm oil. This destroys huge amounts of rainforest and destroys the biodiversity.
Malaysia is the largest producer of palm oil in the world.
Tribal people use subsistence farming to survive, they clear small areas of rainforest and row crops on it for a couple of years before moving onto another patch of land, leaving the other patch to regrow. This is sustainable
Another method, are commonly used by people moving into the rainforest is slash and burn. This is where trees are cleared and the burnt. Then the ashes are used as fertiliser to grow crops. A problem with this is it can often cause forest fires, destroying lots of rainforest.
Impacts of Deforestation
When trees and plants are cleared it makes the soil very vulnerable to erosion. The soil is easily eroded when it rains as there are no roots to keep the soil in place so it is all washed away into rivers and into the bottom of valleys. This means that no more plants can grow on the slopes as there is no soil.
Loss of biodiversity
Rainforests have some of the highest amounts of biodiversity in the world. But when the rainforest is cut down many animals either go extinct or have to move into smaller area of rainforest.
For example the Orang-utan only lives in the rainforest of Borneo, which is currently being cleared for palm oil plantations and other stuff. If all the rainforest is cleared the Orang-utan will go extinct
Deforestation of rainforests affects climate change the rainforest transfer CO2 in the atmosphere into oxygen and and also work as carbon traps as they store carbon from the atmosphere. So when the rainforest is cleared there are less trees to swap CO2 for O2 so this increases climate change. Also if the trees are then burnt all the carbon stored is released into the atmosphere as CO2.
Why should Tropical Rainforest be protected
Rainforests contain around half of the worlds plants and animals
Around 25% of all medicines come from rainforest plants
Rainforest trees provide lots of hardwoods, rubber and lots of different foods
20% of the worlds fresh water comes from the Amazon basin.
Lots of indigenous tribes live in the rainforest
28% of the worlds oxygen comes form the rainforest
Rainforests absorb CO2
How is Malaysia protecting their rainforest
Selective logging is where only certain trees are cut down and then the area is left to regrow. This allows the country to still earn money through exporting Tropical Hardwoods, yet they rainforest can still grow.
Conservation and Education
Rainforest can be protected by national parks / nature reserves. These areas earn the country money through tourism.
Local people can be educated so they can protected the rainforest and earn money from the rainforest
A Swiss perfume company called Givaudan works with people in Venezuela to protects around 148,000 hectares of land. The local people are encouraged to find and harvest tonka beans which are used in there perfumes.
Ecotourism is where small eco friendly lodges in the rainforest are used as accommodation for tourists who want to experience the rainforest. Some of the money can then be used to protect areas of rainforest.