Malaysia adopts new remote sensing technology to detect illegal forest burning
October 16, 2006
Last month Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Sri Najib Tun Razak announced that Malaysia will use a new remote sensing technology to detect illegal logging and forest fires in the country.
Malaysia's annual deforestation rate accelerated by 86 percent between the close of 1990s and the 2000-2005 period. The country lost lost an average of 140,200 hectares -- 0.65 percent of its forest area -- per year since 2000 according to official figures. Forest cover has fallen dramatically in Malaysia since the 1970s. While the United Nations says that forests still cover more than 60% of the country, less than 12 percent of these forests are considered pristine.
Declining forest cover in Malaysia results primarily from urbanization, agricultural fires, and forest conversion for oil palm plantations and other forms of agriculture. Logging, which is generally excluded in deforestation figures from FAO, is responsible for widespread forest degradation in the country and green groups have blamed local timber companies for failing to practice sustainable forest management.