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Proximate and underlying causes of forest cover change in Peninsular Malaysia


  • Miyamoto, Motoe
  • Mohd Parid, Mamat
  • Noor Aini, Zakaria
  • Michinaka, Tetsuya


This study examined the process and causes of forest cover change in Peninsular Malaysia from 1970 to 2010. Time series data on forest cover, land use, timber production, and socio-economic variables of Peninsular Malaysia were analyzed by regression modeling using Akaike Information Criterion (AIC). Peninsular Malaysia experienced extensive deforestation during the 1970s and early 1980s, but since then deforestation has slowed down substantially. Regression results highlighted that poverty alleviation was the principal underlying factor leading to change in forest area. Neither population growth nor economic growth was a major factor affecting forest cover. Oil palm expansion was identified as the main proximate cause of deforestation. Regression results also indicate that oil palm expansion greatly contributed to poverty reduction. Our empirical evidence suggests that in Peninsular Malaysia, agricultural development to reduce poverty, in particular oil palm development, initially led to deforestation. However, substantial decrease in poverty caused decrease in deforestation over the long term. Based on the results of this study, we propose poverty alleviation as a strategy to reduce deforestation. Our findings demonstrate the need to analyze factors that reduce deforestation and to develop effective REDD programs.

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  • Miyamoto, Motoe & Mohd Parid, Mamat & Noor Aini, Zakaria & Michinaka, Tetsuya, 2014. "Proximate and underlying causes of forest cover change in Peninsular Malaysia," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 18-25.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:forpol:v:44:y:2014:i:c:p:18-25
    DOI: 10.1016/j.forpol.2014.05.007

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Miyamoto, Motoe, 2020. "Poverty reduction saves forests sustainably: Lessons for deforestation policies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 127(C).
    2. Varkkey, Helena & Tyson, Adam & Choiruzzad, Shofwan Al Banna, 2018. "Palm oil intensification and expansion in Indonesia and Malaysia: Environmental and socio-political factors influencing policy," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 148-159.
    3. Mili Ghosh & Bhaskar Sinha, 2016. "Impact of forest policies on timber production in India: a review," Natural Resources Forum, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(1-2), pages 62-76, February.
    4. Jaza Folefack, Achille Jean & Ngo Njiki, Marie Gaelle & Darr, Dietrich, 2019. "Safeguarding forests from smallholder oil palm expansion by more intensive production? The case of Ngwei forest (Cameroon)," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 45-61.
    5. Handavu, Ferdinand & Chirwa, Paxie W.C. & Syampungani, Stephen, 2019. "Socio-economic factors influencing land-use and land-cover changes in the miombo woodlands of the Copperbelt province in Zambia," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 75-94.
    6. Zhang, Kerong & Song, Conghe & Zhang, Yulong & Zhang, Quanfa, 2017. "Natural disasters and economic development drive forest dynamics and transition in China," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 56-64.
    7. Valente, Donatella & Miglietta, Pier Paolo & Porrini, Donatella & Pasimeni, Maria Rita & Zurlini, Giovanni & Petrosillo, Irene, 2019. "A first analysis on the need to integrate ecological aspects into financial insurance," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 392(C), pages 117-127.
    8. Tetsuya Michinaka, 2018. "Approximating Forest Resource Dynamics in Peninsular Malaysia Using Parametric and Nonparametric Models, and Its Implications for Establishing Forest Reference (Emission) Levels under REDD+," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(2), pages 1-16, June.


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